Up until now, Formula 1 officials have pushed on with plans to feature 23 Grands Prix on this year’s schedule but on Saturday confirmed 22 is the best the series will be able to deliver.
Even accounting for the loss of a prospective 23rd race if Formula 1 completes the revised 22-race schedule that it has unveiled, it will still be a record-breaking calendar, surpassing the 21 Grands Prix held in 2016, 2018 and 2019 respectively.
As part of the changes, the dates of Grands Prix in Turkey, Mexico and Brazil have been pushed back by one week apiece.
It’s been a fluid year for schedule-makers, as events in Canada, Singapore, Japan, Australia and China have been canceled, prompting Turkey, Emilia Romagna and Portugal to be drafted into action, while two Grands Prix were held in Austria.
Critically all three countries—remain on the United Kingdom’s red list—which mandates that all travelers returning from those territories must quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days. The majority of personnel from teams and the broadcast crew are U.K.-based, and hotel quarantine is immutable for Formula 1, but the latest calendar points to a compromise.
Pushing Turkey’s race back a week, to October 10, gives Formula 1 additional breathing room ahead of the U.K. government’s next review of its travel list, due to be released on September 16. If Turkey moves off the red list, as has been speculated, then Formula 1 will be fine. If not, it may draw upon a back-up round in Western Europe.
Moving Mexico and Brazil back a week to November 7 and 14, respectively, means the United States’ round, at the Circuit of the Americas, is now a standalone event on October 24. Personnel will travel straight to and from Austin, Texas.
A to-be-confirmed race (TBC on the schedule) remains on the schedule and has been formally included on November 21, which is expected to take Formula 1 to Qatar’s Losail Circuit for the first time. That event has not yet been ratified amid ongoing commercial discussions with race promoters.
A triple-header Mexico-Brazil-Qatar in successive weeks means Formula 1 personnel can travel straight from South America to the tiny Gulf state, thus avoiding having to hotel quarantine in the U.K. They would then be able to head back home after Qatar before returning to the region a week later for the final two events in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi on December 5 and 12 respectively.
Formula 1 remains at the mercy of travel restrictions and government approval, but it has repeatedly highlighted the protocols it has in place. Its traveling personnel have taken 56,000 Covid-19 tests this year with only 38 positive cases. The majority of personnel have already received both doses of the vaccine.
“We are very pleased to announce the updates to the 2021 calendar following extensive discussions with the promoters and national authorities,” said Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali. “The pandemic continues to present the season with challenges but we have proven we can adapt and we are confident we can deliver a record breaking 22 races this year despite a global pandemic.
“I want to thank the promoters in Brazil, Mexico and Turkey for their patience and flexibility and we will provide the details of the final addition soon.”
The Revised Remaining 2021 F1 Calendar
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