Formula 1 has revealed its provisional 23-round 2021 calendar, with Australia listed as the opening event, while Vietnam does not feature.
Formula 1’s 2020 season has been heavily affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, with over half of the planned rounds cancelled, and several circuits acting as stand-in rounds.
In spite of the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, and restrictions in certain countries, Formula 1 published a provisional roster of events for next year on Tuesday.
The biggest development is the absence from the schedule of the planned inaugural event in Vietnam.
Formula 1 was due to visit the country in April 2020 at a semi-permanent street circuit located on the outskirts of capital city Hanoi.
But the event was postponed just three weeks prior to the maiden round, due to Covid-19, and it has not been listed on the 2021 schedule.
It has been indicated that the event’s absence is due to political issues in Vietnam though relations between race organisers and Formula 1 had already been strained.
Hanoi People’s Committee chairman Nguyen Duc Chung, who was heavily involved in the event, was arrested in August for appropriating state secrets.
It raises doubts over whether the event, which was the first new round agreed under Liberty Media’s stewardship of the championship, will ever take place.
Vietnam’s planned race date of April 25 has been listed as TBD on a 23-round calendar that features the inclusion of Saudi Arabia and retention of Brazil’s Interlagos.
Saudi Arabia’s maiden event, to take place at night around the streets of coastal city Jeddah, is slated for November 28, a week before the traditional season finale in Abu Dhabi on December 5.
Australia’s round has been listed for March 21, a week later than the intended 2020 opener, which was cancelled just hours before Friday practice was due to take place.
The Netherlands has been reinstated but Zandvoort’s return has been shifted from May to September to form the middle part of a triple-header with Spa and Monza.
It will be one of two triple-headers on the provisional 2021 calendar with Russia, Singapore and Japan due to take place across three successive weekends.
The Brazilian Grand Prix has been included but remains subject to a revised agreement on account of the long-running saga over the event’s future.
Interlagos’ contract expired after 2020 but the circuit has been given a reprieve for 2021 – albeit provisionally.
Formula 1 has an agreement with the government-supported Rio Motorsports organisation but the project, located in the Deodoro district, has courted controversy owing to environmental and sustainability concerns and will not be ready until at least 2022.
None of the venues that were drafted into the calendar at short-notice this year have retained their place for 2021 but it is believed several are vying to claim Vietnam’s vacated spot.
If no event takes Vietnam’s place it will reduce the schedule to 22 events.
While Formula 1 is regarded as an elite sport, and therefore exempt from several restrictions, officials are nevertheless wary that they may face setbacks and issues with any calendar.
Britain’s event is set to be a standalone round, on July 18, amid caution over the entry and exit checks that may be in place due to the country’s uncertain status with the European Union.
Britain formally left the bloc at the end of January but its existing agreements have remained in place through 2020, a situation which will currently elapse at the conclusion of the year.
A date of July 18 also ensures the British Grand Prix does not clash with the Euro 2020 football final and Wimbledon’s Men’s final, both due to take place in the country on July 11.
Austria, which opened the delayed 2020 campaign with two races at the Red Bull Ring, will form part of a back-to-back weekend with France.
Monaco’s iconic street event is due to take place on May 23, with Baku twinned with Montreal, returning to June after its April date in 2019.
Formula 1’s other North American events – which take place in Austin and Mexico City – are scheduled as twinned rounds in late October.
Spain’s event, set to start the European leg of the calendar, remains subject to contracts being ratified.
2021 Provisional Formula 1 Calendar
|1||Australian GP||Melbourne||March 21|
|2||Bahrain GP||Sakhir||March 28|
|3||Chinese GP||Shanghai||April 11|
|5||Spanish GP*||Barcelona||May 9|
|6||Monaco GP||Monte Carlo||May 23|
|7||Azerbaijan GP||Baku||June 6|
|8||Canadian GP||Montreal||June 13|
|9||French GP||Paul Ricard||June 27|
|10||Austrian GP||Spielberg||July 4|
|11||British GP||Silverstone||July 18|
|12||Hungarian GP||Budapest||August 1|
|13||Belgian GP||Spa-Francorchamps||August 29|
|14||Dutch GP||Zandvoort||September 5|
|15||Italian GP||Monza||September 12|
|16||Russian GP||Sochi||September 26|
|17||Singapore GP||Singapore||October 3|
|18||Japanese GP||Suzuka||October 10|
|19||United States GP||Austin, Texas||October 24|
|20||Mexican GP||Mexico City||October 31|
|21||Brazilian GP*||Sao Paulo||November 14|
|22||Saudi Arabia GP||Jeddah||November 28|
|23||Abi Dhabi GP||Abu Dhabi||December 5|