Bahrain could open the 2021 Formula 1 season with back-to-back events as championship officials continue to try and plot a path through the Covid-19 pandemic.
Formula 1 initially scheduled its traditional Australian season-opener for March 21 but the event has been postponed until November owing to ongoing travel restrictions.
It means Bahrain is set to open the new campaign on March 28, following pre-season testing from March 12 to 14, while at it stands Imola will hold round two on April 18.
The TBC event on May 2 has been lined up for Portugal, a week before the Spanish Grand Prix, but tighter travel restrictions in Europe are causing further uncertainty.
Under the current restrictions between the United Kingdom – where seven of the 10 teams and a vast number of other personnel are based – and Portugal the elite sport exemption, which previously excluded members from quarantine, is not in place.
Arsenal and Benfica’s upcoming Europa League tie is due to be moved due to the restrictions.
Other football matches between clubs from different nations are also set for disruption.
One proposal being evaluated by Formula 1 is whether to hold two rounds in Bahrain, which would push Imola’s round back a week, before travelling to Spain as the fourth event.
Formula 1 adopted a similar approach during the early stages of the delayed 2020 campaign when Austria’s Red Bull Ring and Britain’s Silverstone both held two rounds.
Bahrain also hosted two events during the closing stages of the campaign but was the only venue to do so on different layouts – and that strategy could be employed once more in 2021.
“We are fluid and flexible to be ready with other possibilities and we already have different plans B, C, D in place in case they are needed,” new Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali is quoted by RACER.
“But I am totally transparent — the things that are fixed today can be very different tomorrow and that is why we are in contact with all the organisers every day.
“There is a ‘TBC’ date there and if it was going to be Portugal, it would have been written Portugal. The reason why it is not is because the situation is not closed yet.
“One possible plan B could be a double race in Bahrain, nothing confirmed, but it is an option on the table for our discussion. We need to be ready to change, it would be wrong to say the opposite.”
Formula 1 also postponed its planned April visit to China due to the nation’s ongoing restrictions on international events, which is likely to remain in place until the second half of 2021.