Australia to open the Formula 1 season in 2025 as Bahrain and Saudi races shift for Ramadan

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Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands celebrates after he became the world champion after winning the Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

LONDON (AP) — Lewis Hamilton’s first race in a Ferrari will be in Australia.

Next year’s Formula 1 season will open in Melbourne for the first time since 2019 after the full calendar for 2025 was revealed Friday.

The Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne will be the opening race because the Bahrain and Saudi Arabian rounds of the F1 championship — the first two races of this year — are shifting to mid-April dates to avoid a clash with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Next year, seven-time champion Hamilton will be starting a new era in his career when he s witches to Ferrari for 2025. That will follow 12 years with Mercedes, where Hamilton has won six titles.

Australia was last scheduled to host the opening race in 2020 but it was canceled hours before the Friday practice session was due to begin as the COVID-19 pandemic began.

After Australia, the next races on the 2025 calendar will be in China and then Japan, fitting F1’s plans to cut the travel distance between its events where possible with an eye to the sport’s environmental impact.

The schedule stays at 24 races — a record length for F1 — and there are no new circuits for next year, which will mark the 75th anniversary of F1. The season finishes with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Dec. 7.

F1 president and chief executive Stefano Domenicali said in a statement that “2025 will be a special year as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the FIA Formula One World Championship, and it’s that legacy and experience that allows us to deliver such a strong calendar.”

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AP Formula 1: https://apnews.com/hub/formula-one