Bahrain has seen off Saudi Arabia to retain its place as Formula 1 season opener from next year after a record 24-race F1 calendar for the 2024 season was announced on Wednesday.
The first two races of next year will take place on a Saturday to accommodate the Islamic festival of Ramadan, following a trend set by the new Las Vegas Grand Prix which is set to be staged on a Saturday night this November.
Having held its inaugural event as the penultimate round of the iconic 2021 season, the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix had already switched to an early-season slot for 2022/23 but the organisers of the Jeddah-based event were open about their desire to secure season-opening status.
Bahrain keeps F1 calendar slot despite Saudi speculation
Ahead of the third edition of the race back in March, Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Abdullah Al-Faisal, the chairman of the Saudi Motorsport Company, claimed Saudi Arabia would “love” to host the opening race and expressed his wish to stage the grand prix well in advance of the start of Ramadan.
Although Saudi Arabia had been widely expected to take the season-opening slot, it has now been confirmed that Bahrain will host the first race for a fourth straight year on March 2 with Saudi Arabia following a week later on March 9.
The 2024 campaign will conclude in traditional style with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, scheduled for December 8, as the final part of a triple header with Las Vegas and Qatar.
In fact, the season will finish with two separate triple headers with the United States, Mexico and Brazilian rounds taking place in quick succession in October/November.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Grand Prix is set to finally return in 2024 after a five-year absence since the Shanghai circuit memorably hosted F1’s 1,000th race celebrations in 2019.
The race had originally been set to return in 2023, but was cancelled last December due to Covid-19 restrictions and will return to its traditional slot on April 21.
The Chinese round will come two weeks after the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, which has been switched from its traditional October slot to host the fourth round of the season on April 7.
The Azerbaijan Grand Prix is another big mover and will effectively swap places with Japan, switching from April to become the first part of a September double-header with Singapore.
The full calendar reads as follows:
March 2: Bahrain
March 9: Saudi Arabia
March 24: Australia
April 7: Japan
April 21: China
May 5: Miami
May 19: Emilia Romagna
May 26: Monaco
June 9: Canada
June 23: Spain
June 30: Austria
July 7: United Kingdom
July 21: Hungary
July 28: Belgium
August 25: Netherlands
September 1: Italy
September 15: Azerbaijan
September 22: Singapore
October 20: United States
October 27: Mexico
November 3: Brazil
November 23: Las Vegas
December 1: Qatar
December 8: Abu Dhabi