Record-breaking Formula One season could see crowds return

By PA Sport Staff
·4-min read

Formula One organisers are hopeful that next year’s record-breaking 23-race season could be “close to normal” as plans progress for the return of fans.

The 2021 calendar was unveiled on Tuesday morning, with the busiest campaign in the sport’s history confirmed.

While Vietnam’s inaugural Grand Prix has been shelved, the April 25 date has been held for a yet-to-be-confirmed replacement host, with Istanbul, Imola and Portugal all in contention.

Chase Carey, chairman and chief executive of F1, was delighted to unveil the programme after this year’s 22-race structure was redrawn and reduced to just 17 in the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak.

Carey also made it clear it was the driving ambition to move on from the behind-closed-doors era by welcoming live crowds once again.

“We are pleased to announce the 2021 Formula 1 provisional calendar after extensive conversations with our promoters, the teams and the FIA,” he said in a statement.

“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. In fact, many hosts actually want to use our event as a platform to show the world they are moving forward.

“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.”

Next year’s bumper programme will begin in Australia, with the first race on March 21 in Melbourne, and conclude in Abu Dhabi on December 5.

The British Grand Prix at Silverstone will return on July 18.
Mercedes AMG’s Valtteri Bottas during the second practice session of the 70th Anniversary Formula One Grand Prix at Silverstone Race circuit, Northampton.

The British Grand Prix at Silverstone has been selected for the 11th round of competition, with the meeting taking place from July 16-18. The Silverstone dates will ensure no direct clash between the Wimbledon men’s singles final and football’s European Championship showpiece at Wembley.

While Vietnam will not be welcoming the F1 grid for the first time, Saudi Arabia will be staging its inaugural grand prix in Jeddah on November 28.

“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 at in 2020,” added Carey.

“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.”

McLaren chief executive Zak Brown said: “This is extremely positive news for the sport: its teams, partners, promoters, media and, most of all, fans.

“As we approach the final four races of a 17-race season – an outstanding achievement for the only global sport to return to full competition this year – it is testament to the incredible ongoing work and diligence of F1, the FIA, promoters and all the teams that Formula 1 is now able to announce a full calendar for 2021.

“We will continue to work closely with Formula 1 and the FIA, who have set a leading example with the teams in the way they have implemented the return to racing through stringent and effective protocols and procedures. This collective experience gives us high confidence that the sport will return to a level of normality for the 2021 season.”

Provisional 2021 calendar: Mar 21 – Australia, Mar 28 – Bahrain, Apr 11 – China, Apr 25 – TBC, May 9 – Spain, May 23 – Monaco, Jun 6 – Azerbaijan, Jun 13 – Canada, Jun 27 – France, Jul 4 – Austria, Jul 18 – United Kingdom, Aug 1 – Hungary, Aug 29 – Belgium, Sep 5 – Netherlands, Sep 12 – Italy, Sep 26 – Russia, Oct 3 – Singapore, Oct 10 – Japan, Oct 24 – USA, Oct 31 – Mexico, Nov 14 – Brazil, Nov 28 – Saudi Arabia, Dec 5 – Abu Dhabi.