Formula 1’s Australian and Chinese Grands Prix have been postponed, with the 2021 season due to start in Bahrain, and Imola officially added to the revised schedule.
As reported by The Race, the 2021 schedule will look significantly different to the one ratified by the FIA last month.
In addition to confirming the season opener in Australia will be postponed to 19-21 November, F1 has stated that the Chinese Grand Prix will also need to be rescheduled.
Adjustments will need to be made to the second half of the calendar if China is to be slotted in later.
Australia’s Melbourne race will have a standalone place in between a trio of American races (with the Brazilian GP moved forward one week to end a triple-header with the US and Mexico) and the Middle-East finale (which will now take place one week later than planned).
This “provides the opportunity to safely host what could be the championship decider in Melbourne”, according to Australian Grand Prix Corporation chairman Paul Little.
Shanghai, meanwhile, will only be part of the schedule if another race does not happen, because F1 is not willing to hold more than 23 races this year – but F1 has indicated all other races have a green light from their respective authorities.
That means the Chinese GP’s cancellation for the second year in a row is a serious possibility.
The Shanghai race losing its guaranteed place is a result of F1 being likely to add Algarve to fill the gap between races in April as part of an earlier-than-usual European schedule – the Portuguese race set to come one week before the Spanish GP, which has agreed the contract that was required to rubber-stamp its place on the calendar.
Algarve and Imola joined the F1 calendar in 2020 as surprise additions to the heavily-altered schedule triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Portugal’s Algarve circuit had never hosted a grand prix before while Imola returned to the calendar for the first time since 2006.
Both aimed to be part of the schedule longer-term but neither were present on the provisional schedule. However, China’s postponed race created a gap that Imola has filled, while a ‘TBC’ slot is set to be taken by Algarve so long as Portugal’s COVID-19 situation is eased in the coming weeks.
2021 CALENDAR UPDATE
🇧🇭 Season starts in Bahrain 26-28 Mar
🇦🇺 Australia moves to 19-21 Nov
🇮🇹 Imola returns 16-18 Apr; China discussions ongoing
— Formula 1 (@F1) January 12, 2021
“It has been a busy start to the year at Formula 1 and we are pleased to confirm that the number of races planned for the season remains unchanged,” said F1’s newly-appointed President and CEO Stefano Domenicali.
“The global pandemic has not yet allowed life to return to normal, but we showed in 2020 that we can race safely as the first international sport to return and we have the experience and plans in place to deliver on our season.
“It is great news that we have already been able to agree a rescheduled date for the Australian Grand Prix in November and are continuing to work with our Chinese colleagues to find a solution to race there in 2021 if something changes.
“We are very excited to announce that Imola will return for the 2021 season and know our fans will be looking forward to the return of Formula 1 after the winter break and our revised season opener in Bahrain. Obviously, the virus situation remains fluid, but we have the experience from last season with all our partners and promoters to adapt accordingly and safely in 2021.”
Latest F1 calendar
March 28: Bahrain
April 18: Imola
May 2: TBC (Algarve)
May 9: Barcelona
May 23: Monaco
June 6: Baku
June 13: Montreal
June 27: Paul Ricard
July 4: Red Bull Ring
July 18: Silverstone
August 1: Hungaroring
August 29: Spa
September 5: Zandvoort
September 12: Monza
September 26: Sochi
October 3: Singapore
October 10: Suzuka
October 24: Austin
October 31: Mexico City
November 7: Interlagos
November 21: Melbourne
December 5: Saudi Arabia
December 12: Abu Dhabi