The first race of the 2021 IndyCar season is currently set for March 7 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, but there have been reports the season opener may have to be pushed back to a later date due to the ongoing pandemic.
According to RACER.com, the series is looking into options to shift the first couple races of the year back in hopes that the delay would bring lessened restrictions.
Among the options being considered is to delay St. Petersburg until April 25, and shift Barber Motorsports Park back one week from its current date to April 18.
These changes would put Barber as the season opener, with St. Petersburg slotting in just before a double-header at Texas Motor Speedway at the beginning of May.
The 2020 race at St. Petersburg was one of many races that had to be delayed at the start of last season, and when it eventually took place as the season finale a limited number of fans were allowed to attend in person.
Since then, the COVID situation has worsened, and both IndyCar and the race’s promoter, Green Savoree Racing Promotions, are surely predicting a situation where fans would not be allowed to attend a race held in early March.
The changes would need to be confirmed soon, as it takes the city of St. Petersburg approximately six weeks to convert the city streets to a race course, and the current date of Mach 7 is only eight weeks away.
There has already been one amendment to the original 2021 schedule, with Long Beach being pushed back from April to the finale on September 26. That change was also made in order to have better chances of allowing fans to attend, which is a key revenue source for the series, tracks, and the teams.
There is no timetable for an official announcement about the expected changes to the calendar.