Formula 1 has officially announced its planned 2021 calendar, boasting a record 23 Grands Prix in what he becomes the most extensive schedule ever seen in the series.
The calendar remains provisional and is open to change. However, fitting 23 races into just eight months leaves several congested patches.
There are five back-to-back Grands Prix and two triple-headers of three successive races. The summer break in August has also been extended out to four weeks.
The inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix slated for April 25 has been left blank after being scrapped from the calendar amid a shift in the government’s focus towards recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The fact F1 has kept the date as ‘to be decided’ suggests an alternative circuit, likely seen during this year’s revamped schedule, will make a return for another season.
Australia has been confirmed as the season-opener on March 21. Race organisers are currently working with health officials to implement new protocols which will allow for the presence of spectators.
“We’re thrilled that the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship will commence at its traditional home here in Melbourne,” said Andrew Westacott, Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO.
“We continue to work closely with health authorities and the Victorian Government as we develop our plans for fan attendance, which will be announced when finalised. We’re adopting a sensible, adaptable and flexible approach, ensuring that a safe environment for fans and participants is our top priority.”
The opening leg of the calendar follows most of a traditional pattern, resembling the pre-coronavirus 2020 calendar.
Noteworthy changes include the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort being pushed back from May to September.
Interlagos has also been announced as the venue for the Brazilian Grand Prix after a delay in the construction of a new circuit in Rio de Janeiro due to environmental protests.
The recently-announced Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is the penultimate race of the season at the end of November.
This year, numerous circuits had the Grands Prix culled as the global pandemic forced series organisers to restructure the calendar.
The Red Bull Ring, Silverstone and Sakhir each gained a second race each. At the same time, the Nurburgring, Imola, Istanbul Park, Mugello and Algarve were all brought in to complete the schedule.
Every race this season has been held either behind closed doors or with a minimal number of fans trackside.
Bu F1 CEO and Chairman Chase Carey says the series is working around the issue to ensure it can bring its 2021 calendar with the return of spectators.
“We are pleased to announce the 2021 Formula 1 provisional calendar after extensive conversations with our promoters, the teams and the FIA,” said Carey
“We are planning for 2021 events with fans that provide an experience close to normal and expect our agreements to be honoured.
“We have proven that we can safely travel and operate our races and our promoters increasingly recognise the need to move forward and manage the virus.
“Many hosts want to use our event as a platform to show the world they are moving forward.
“We are delighted to see Saudi Arabia become part of the schedule and are equally excited to return to the venues we hoped to race in 2020.
“We want to thank all our promoters and partners for their ongoing enthusiasm and collaboration and look forward to giving our fans an exciting season on the track.”