Formula 1 has unveiled a 2021 draft calendar to the teams – reported to comprise 23 races with two triple-headers.
Unlike a rumoured schedule that was doing the rounds a few weeks ago, this one, as reported by Auto Motor und Sport, begins with the Australian Grand Prix on March 21.
Organisers of that race, which was cancelled this year after a McLaren employee tested positive for COVID-19, issued a statement recently saying Melbourne would, as has become normal, launch the 2021 season.
After the next two races in Bahrain and China which also follow a familiar pattern, Vietnam is scheduled for April 25 “albeit with a question mark”, which the report says is for political reasons. The race on a Hanoi street circuit was intended to make its debut in 2020 but had to be cancelled due to the global health pandemic.
The Spanish Grand Prix, which had been in danger of being dropped, looks to have been given a stay of execution and is said to be the first European race of the campaign on May 9, followed by Monaco and Azerbaijan at fortnightly intervals.
Then comes the usual mid-June trip to Canada before France, Austria, Britain and Hungary leading up to the summer break in August.
Beyond that, the report says no dates have been specified, only that two triple-headers have been pencilled in – Italy (Monza), Netherlands and Belgium being the first, although the Belgian Grand Prix is usually the week before the Italian.
The other triple-header, which sounds logistically much more difficult, is Singapore, Japan and Russia, with the season finishing as usual at Abu Dhabi in December.
The identity of the other four races has not been mentioned, although at least two of them would be on the American continent in the United States and Mexico – while there has also been talk of a new grand prix in Saudi Arabia.
The report adds that a six-hour meeting of all 10 F1 team bosses took place in Portimao on Monday along with FIA president Jean Todt and outgoing, present and incoming Formula 1 management Chase Carey, Ross Brawn and Stefano Domenicali.
It is also said there is no ‘Plan B’ calendar in the event of disruption on a similar scale to this year – which makes sense given nobody can know at this stage what, or where, anything might happen to affect the anticipated schedule.