Australian Grand Prix moved to autumn: Lawrence Stroll

The Australian Grand Prix will be postponed to the back end of the Formula One season with Bahrain replacing it as the opening race in March, Aston Martin team owner Lawrence Stroll told Reuters.

The move, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and quarantine restrictions, has been widely flagged in the media but is yet to be confirmed by Formula One or local organisers.

"Melbourne has been - it's not officially announced but it will be - not cancelled but postponed. We will go there sometime in the fall (autumn) and the first race will be Bahrain," said the Canadian billionaire.

He was speaking ahead of the announcement of a new team title sponsorship with IT company Cognizant.

Formula One teams agreed to the change in a virtual meeting with F1's new chief executive Stefano Domenicali on Monday.

Sources said the same meeting also agreed for pre-season testing to take place in Bahrain instead of Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya, with no dates set.

Last season's race calendar had to be rewritten due to the pandemic, with an eventual 17 rounds in Europe and the Middle East.

Stroll expects lingering difficulties, saying: "I do believe we're in for a difficult two or three months. There is a light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine. I think the first few races will be slightly challenging.

"I think the worst is behind us and we've learnt through last year how to proceed with this year," said Stroll, whose son Lance drives for Aston Martin.

Both tested positive for the virus last year. - REUTERS