Formula One has issued a revised 2021 race schedule, with the planned season-opener in Australia postponed until November and a race at Imola replacing the Chinese Grand Prix. The changes have been made in response to travel restrictions imposed by governments due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The season will now get underway in Bahrain on March 28 and run a week longer than originally planned, with the final race in Abu Dhabi shifted back to December 12. That will create space at the end of the season for the Australian Grand Prix to slot into a new date on November 21 between the Brazilian and Saudi Arabian Grands Prix.
Imola, which staged a grand prix on last year’s rescheduled calendar, will be the second race of the year on April 18, with the location of the third race, on May 2, yet to be confirmed.
Portimao, which hosted the Portuguese Grand Prix in 2020, is believed to be under consideration as well as a second race at the Circuit de Catalunya outside Barcelona, which will host the Spanish Grand Prix a week later on May 9.
Formula One said discussions to reschedule the Chinese Grand Prix are “ongoing” with the promoter of the race, but it is not yet clear where it would fit in to the rescheduled calendar.
Rescheduled 2021 F1 calendar
March 28, Bahrain GP, Sakhir
April 18, Emilia Romagna GP, Imola*
May 2, TBC
May 9, Spanish GP, Circuit de Catalunya
May 23, Monaco GP, Monte Carlo
June 6, Azerbaijan GP, Baku
June 13, Canadian GP, Montreal
June 27, French GP, Paul Ricard
July 4, Austrian GP, Red Bull Ring
July 18, British GP, Silverstone
August 1, Hungarian GP, Budapest
August 29, Belgian GP, Spa-Fracorchamps
September 5, Dutch GP, Zandvoort
September 21, Italian GP, Monza
September 26, Russian GP, Sochi
October 3, Singapore GP, Marina Bay
October 10, Japanese GP, Suzuka
October 24, U.S. GP, Austin
October 31, Mexican GP, Mexico City
November 7, Brazilian GP, Sao Paulo
November 21, Australian GP, Melbourne*
December 5, Saudi Arabian GP, Jeddah**
December 12, Abu Dhabi GP, Yas Marina
*Revisions to calendar are subject to World Motor Sport Council approval
**Subject to circuit homologation
As things stand, the 2021 calendar retains a record-breaking 23 races and is heavily loaded towards the end of the year in the hope that travel restrictions will ease up.
“It has been a busy start to the year at Formula One and we are pleased to confirm that the number of races planned for the season remains unchanged,” F1’s newly-appointed CEO Stefano Domenicali said.
“The global pandemic has not yet allowed life to return to normal, but we showed in 2020 that we can race safely as the first international sport to return and we have the experience and plans in place to deliver on our season. It is great news that we have already been able to agree a rescheduled date for the Australian Grand Prix in November and we are continuing to work with our Chinese colleagues to find a solution to race there in 2021 if something changes.
“We are very excited to announce that Imola will return for the 2021 season and know our fans will be looking forward to the return of Formula One after the winter break and our revised season opener in Bahrain.
“Obviously, the virus situation remains fluid, but we have the experience from last season with all our partners and promoters to adapt accordingly and safely in 2021.”
Pre-season testing is due to take place in Bahrain two weeks before the opening race, although the dates have not yet been confirmed.
Question marks also hang over the first two street races of the year in Monaco and Baku, which require a greater lead time to prepare their events and are much harder to hold behind closed doors without the public.