F1 revises 2021 calendar after Australian and Chinese GPs postponed
Motor racing’s Formula 1 has unveiled a revised calendar for the start of the 2021 season after the postponement of the Australian and Chinese Grands Prix due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Australian round in Melbourne, originally scheduled for 21 March, will now take place on 21 November, while discussions over a new date for the Chinese round in Shanghai, which was due to be held on 11 April, are ongoing.
Both countries presently have mandatory 14-day quarantine requirements for international arrivals.
Martin Pakula, major events minister for Victoria, said: “This is the right decision and we thank Formula 1 management for their co-operation in setting anew scheduled for the 2021 season.
“The Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix is one of the greatest events in the world and we’ll make sure it can be run safely and successfully in November.”
Stefano Domenicali, the new Formula 1 president and chief executive, said: “It is great news that we have already been able to agree a rescheduled date for the Australian Grand Prix in November and are continuing to work with our Chinese colleagues to find a solution to race there in 2021 if something changes.
“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.”
The 2021 season will now begin its record 23-race schedule with the Bahrain Grand Prix on 28 March, the second race of the original calendar.
It will be followed by a additional race at Imola in Italy on 18 April, which has been organised to ensure the season continues without a long break.
Imola, which held a grand prix for 27 consecutive years from 1980, hosted its first race since 2006 in November of last year.
A host for the third race of the season, scheduled for 2 May, is yet to be confirmed but is expected to be Portugal’s Portimao circuit, which made its Formula 1 debut last year.
The season will then continue as previously planned with the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona on 9 May.
However, dates for the Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi races in the later part of the season have been changed to accommodate the rescheduled Australian race in November.
The Brazil Grand Prix has moved forward one week to 7 November, while the Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi rounds have been pushed back by a week to 5 and 12 December respectively.
Domenicali said: “We are pleased to confirm that the number of races planned for the season remains unchanged.
“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.”
Only 17 of the 22 scheduled Formula 1 races went ahead in 2020, with the season largely focused on Europe, because of Covid-19 restrictions.