IndyCar has confirmed a late change to its 2021 season calendar with the Grand Prix of St Petersburg postponed for the second year in a row due to Covid-19.
The Grand Prix was set to open the new season on March 7 but has now been shifted back to April 25.
It means Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama is now the de-facto season opener on April 11.
“It’s not surprising that an event of this magnitude, scheduled for the first week of March, is still subject to the implications of the pandemic,” Penske Entertainment Corporation president and CEO Mark Miles said.
“We’re delighted we were able to work with Mayor Rick Kriseman’s administration and Green Savoree Racing Promotions to find a more suitable date, which helps consolidate the beginning of our schedule and allows us to stay on NBC network television.”
For our Kiwi duo Scott Dixon and Scott McLaughlin, the news means they will have to wait three weeks longer to start the new season.
Dixon has one of the best records in the entire IndyCar field at Barber Motorsport Park.
While he has never actually won the event since its inaugural event in 2010, Dixon is yet to finish lower than tenth and has scored eight podiums.
Should his fine form at the Alabama circuit continue into the new year, it could be the ideal race for the six-time world champion to kick off his 2020 title defence.
Meanwhile, McLaughlin is yet to have experienced a single race on the narrow 17-turn circuit. However, he isn’t short of laps after racking up 73 tours of the venue in last year’s official post-season test.
McLaughlin’s only race so far in IndyCar has been at St Petersburg, which was due to open his debut full-time season.
Nevertheless, McLaughlin will visit plenty of new circuits over the new year, each bringing its own unique challenge.
The IndyCar Series and its feeder series Indy Lights will also make the same move and start its season at Barber in April.
The spring training testing event for all three Road to Indy series – Indy Lights, Indy Pro 2000 and USF2000 – will also move from its February 22 to 24 date to “late March/early April” at Homestead-Miami.
Fellow Kiwi Hunter McElrea is expected to be at the test, though there has been no word about with which team and in what series.
Latest 2021 IndyCar Calendar:
- April 11 Barber Motorsports Park
- April 25 St Petersburg
- May 1-2 Texas doubleheader
- May 15 Indianapolis road course
- May 30 Indianapolis 500
- June 12-13 Detroit doubleheader
- June 20 Road America
- July 4 Mid-Ohio
- July 11 Toronto
- August 8 Nashville
- August 14 Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course 2
- August 21 Gateway
- September 12 Portland
- September 19 Laguna Seca
- September 26 Long Beach