The 2020 introduced us to an extraordinary situation. From no racing, to racing on the same venues on different dates, to new interesting tracks and comebacks of some old favourites. It also imposed a not-so-regular for us, and many people working in the industry schedule, with 3 triple-headers season.
Although it is exciting for fans, such a thing cannot become the norm, as it leads to overworking, fatigue and stress from everyone - the team members, drivers and others involved in the F1 world. But what could be beneficial for everybody - is introducing some new tracks to the already established calendar.
As said by Chase Carey, the CEO of F1 in early August: “We are planning a 2021 [F1 calendar] that looks like we would’ve expected, which probably will be a 22-race calendar, a calendar that probably starts and finishes about when our [usual] calendar does. We may make it so there’s a little more space in the front end of the calendar, and the second half a little busier. So we’ve got a little more flexibility built into it, but I think that’s probably a tweak to it, not a real restructuring.”
Because the prognosis for 2021 is that the year will look pretty similar to 2020, we can expect some interruption to the regular scheduling of F1. Although there is a higher possibility for more spectators joining the 2021 (maybe not full capacity, but still) races, still many precautions will have to remain in place.
Many of the tracks this year, that made their debut in the calendar or came back after a certain period of time, did so because they knew that no spectators will be involved. But that does not mean it will be forever the case, so could we see any new introductions to the 2021?
To begin with, as racefans.net reports, there can be a disruption itself in the already existing and known by us very well calendar. It has been said that the regular season opener of Australian GP can be moved a little further in the season, somewhere along where Japan and Singapore take place. That would mean that the season is more likely to start in Bahrain.
When it comes to the new additions to the calendar, there have been rumours about a possible street race in Jeddah, the second largest city in Saudi Arabia, after F1 has signed a lucrative deal with Aramco. That would sadly mean we won’t see any of the interesting tracks from this season, but a race related to the strictly business-y side of the sport.
Which is a shame. We’ve seen many interesting things in the 2020 calendar. Two races in Austria as well as two races at Silverstone, which when done right with mixing the tyre strategies and possibly different weather conditions, could produce interesting results. A race in Mugello, which of course had its pros and cons, but it was definitely an interesting weekend to observe with some crazy race results, even tho they were highly dependent on the chaos that occurred on the grid. Nevertheless, it was a good instance to see how F1 cars behave on a track predominantly occupied by motorcycles on the regular basis. Additionally, we’ve got tracks like Nürburgring, Imola and Turkey coming back to the calendar in the next few weeks, which used to definitely deliver races full of emotions. We’re yet to see how the F1 cars will perform at the Algarve circuit in Portugal, as well as the additional race in Bahrain, on the outer layout of the track.
Lets not forget that in 2021, we’re already have two “new” races, that were supposed to happen in 2020 but eventually were cancelled due to the pandemic, which is the completely new tor in Hanoi, Vietnam as well as the comeback to the now slightly re-modelled track of Zandvoort. That means that we could potentially see 3 new circuits, but that’s of course still a speculation.
We could dwell on the possibilities of the 2021 scheduling, but there’s still far way to go - the calendar for 2021 needs to be decided in December this year, and as one can assume, the racing in 2021 will be highly dependent on the possibility of having spectators on the track. Although the regular-basis races that we have in the calendar are capable of hosting an event with spectators, when it comes to infrastructure, it is very hard to predict that for some of the races that happened in 2020, such as Imola. Although Mugello, Nürburging and Turkey have already an infrastructure that could possibly work when it comes to F1 (for example Mugello hosts MotoGP every year since 1994, a GP that attracts tons of fans), it is hard to say so until the circus actually arrives there. For now we can only wait, see how the situation unravels and wait for the final decisions made by bosses, hopefully in the very near future.