Australia to Hold 2025 F1 Season Opener Instead of Bahrain Due to Ramadan

 Red Bull Racing's Dutch driver Max Verstappen drives during the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix race at the Suzuka circuit in Suzuka, Mie prefecture on April 7, 2024. (AFP)
Red Bull Racing's Dutch driver Max Verstappen drives during the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix race at the Suzuka circuit in Suzuka, Mie prefecture on April 7, 2024. (AFP)
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Australia to Hold 2025 F1 Season Opener Instead of Bahrain Due to Ramadan

 Red Bull Racing's Dutch driver Max Verstappen drives during the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix race at the Suzuka circuit in Suzuka, Mie prefecture on April 7, 2024. (AFP)
Red Bull Racing's Dutch driver Max Verstappen drives during the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix race at the Suzuka circuit in Suzuka, Mie prefecture on April 7, 2024. (AFP)

The 2025 Australian Grand Prix will be the Formula One season-opener for the first time in six years instead of Bahrain after the sport's governing body (FIA) released next year's calendar on Friday.

The 24-race season will commence on March 16 in Melbourne and end on Dec. 7 in Abu Dhabi as Formula One celebrates the 75th anniversary of its world championship.

The Bahrain Grand Prix has been the opening race of the season since 2021 while the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix has been the second race on the calendar since 2022.

Formula One did not race at Melbourne's Albert Park Circuit in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but will now host the opening race instead of the Middle Eastern kingdom due to the Muslim holy month of Ramadan falling in March next year.

The first European race will take place in Imola in May as part of a triple header which also includes Monaco and Spain in back-to-back weekends.

"We're grateful to the FIA, our promoters, host city partners, and all the related ASNs for their commitment and support in delivering this schedule and securing what promises to be another fantastic year for Formula 1," Stefano Domenicali, President and CEO of Formula 1, said in a statement.

"I would also like to pay tribute to our F1 teams and drivers, the heroes of our sport, and our fans around the world for continuing to follow Formula 1 with such incredible enthusiasm."

The testing schedule and the sprint calendar are set to be announced at a later date.

The current season has sprints at six Grands Prix -- China, Miami, Austria, United States (Austin), Brazil and Qatar.



Still Plenty of Fear for Real Madrid Coach Ancelotti Despite Champions League Final Successes 

Real Madrid's Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti gives a press conference at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on May 27, 2024 ahead of their Champions League final football match against Borussia Dortmund. (AFP)
Real Madrid's Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti gives a press conference at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on May 27, 2024 ahead of their Champions League final football match against Borussia Dortmund. (AFP)
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Still Plenty of Fear for Real Madrid Coach Ancelotti Despite Champions League Final Successes 

Real Madrid's Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti gives a press conference at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on May 27, 2024 ahead of their Champions League final football match against Borussia Dortmund. (AFP)
Real Madrid's Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti gives a press conference at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on May 27, 2024 ahead of their Champions League final football match against Borussia Dortmund. (AFP)

Carlo Ancelotti is going into his eighth Champions League final, having won all but one of them.

He is the most successful coach in the competition thanks to four titles. He also lifted two European trophies as a player.

There is no lack of experience for the veteran Italian manager. But there is still plenty of anxiety and fear for Ancelotti ahead of yet another big game.

“It’s the same as it was the first time,” the 64-year-old Ancelotti said as Real Madrid entered the final week of preparations ahead of Saturday’s final against Borussia Dortmund in London.

“First there is the joy of being here, then the concerns will come and the fear will come,” he said. “But before they come we have to enjoy this week and I’m going to enjoy it. The cold sweat will arrive Saturday afternoon, it’s normal, I’m already prepared for it. And this team gives me a lot of confidence, I see them focused on the match, they are in Champions (League) mode.”

Ancelotti won the Champions League with Madrid in 2022 and 2014, and with AC Milan in 2003 and 2007. He lost the 2005 edition with AC Milan in a final in a penalty shootout against Liverpool after squandering a 3-0 lead.

His European triumphs as a player came with Milan in 1989 and 1990. He was also in the squad with Roma when it reached the 1984 final but he sat out injured.

Ancelotti said he will stick to his routine before the final at Wembley Stadium.

“I’m a bit superstitious but it’s very normal. I was told that it’s bad luck not to be superstitious,” he said. “I like to eat broccoli, salmon and pasta, and that’s what I’ll eat. Then I’ll have an hour’s nap, if I’m able to. And then I’ll start thinking about the match. Before the talk with the players, my heart will start to rise to 110 or 120 beats. It’ll stay up there until the start of the game, and when it starts it will go back to its normal rhythm.”

Ancelotti said some of his most memorable Champions League highlights are linked to his time with Madrid, including the incredible run in 2022, when it had to rally several times to make it to the final. He also mentioned the late comeback in the semifinal against Bayern Munich a few weeks ago, when Joselu scored in the 88th minute and in stoppage time.

Ancelotti said this season was especially difficult because of the long list of injuries to some of the team’s key players, including serious knee problems to Thibaut Courtois, Éder Militão and David Alaba. Also missing time because of injuries were Vinícius Júnior, Jude Bellingham, Eduardo Camavinga and Aurélien Tchouaméni.

“Attitude and commitment have been the key to overcoming all the problems we’ve had,” Ancelotti said. “That’s what allowed us to have a fantastic season.”

Madrid, which also won the Spanish league and the Spanish Super Cup, is trying to win its sixth European Cup in 10 seasons, matching a feat the club also achieved from 1955-65.

Ancelotti said he prides himself more about the way he has managed his locker rooms than his teams’ tactics over the years.

“Personal relationships are more important than professional relationships,” he said. “I’m not a psychologist but I’m experienced as I’ve worked for many years in locker rooms. I try to treat people with respect not only in tactical aspects but also in personal aspects. I’m in an environment with 50 people and I spend more time with them than with my wife and children. So if there are not good relationships and there is not a good atmosphere, then I’m not doing my job.”