Australian Grand Prix to lead off F1 2019 schedule

<p>
              Race winner Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton prepares to pour champagne on third placed Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen, left, as they celebrate on the podium at the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, central Japan, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            </p>

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The Australian Grand Prix has taken its usual place at the top of the calendar for the 2019 Formula One season, with Melbourne to host the opening race on March 17 at Albert Park.

World governing body FIA said following a meeting of its World Motor Sport Council on Friday that 21 races will be held next year, with 11 in Europe, five in Asia, four in the Americas and one in Australia.