As spectators returned to race tracks en masse in July, the 2021 Australian Grand Prix became the latest casualty of the pandemic and speculation grew over Qatar joining the Formula 1 calendar. Here’s a roundup of the latest F1 calendar news!
2021 Australian Grand Prix cancelled
July’s major Formula 1 calendar news was that, for the second year in succession, the Australian Grand Prix has been cancelled. Originally scheduled to be the season-opener, the date of the Albert Park race was moved earlier this year to November – but it has now been called off altogether.
Australia has had strict entry requirements amid the coronavirus pandemic. Visitors must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. The measures were expected to still be in place by the time of the scheduled Australian Grand Prix in November, which would have made the race unviable in F1’s tight calendar.
Qatar Grand Prix to debut in 2021?
With the Australian Grand Prix cancelled and races in Brazil and Japan looking increasingly unlikely to take place, there may yet be major changes to the second half of the 2021 Formula 1 calendar.
F1 could visit Losail International Circuit later this year for the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix. The circuit, located near Doha, is familiar to MotoGP fans, as it has hosted the Qatar motorcycle Grand Prix since 2004. The Qatar Grand Prix could be held at night, much like the MotoGP event. Losail International Circuit hosted the series’ first ever night race back in 2008. A race in Qatar – in the Middle East, in close proximity to other venues at the end of the season such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – would make sense in this regard.
Meanwhile, it appears that a second race in the United States is a real possibility in 2021. Circuit of the Americas has enabled fans to register interest about tickets for a potential second Grand Prix at the venue later this year.
Fans attending races again
Formula 1 welcomed back fans in July with full capacity crowds for the first time since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. While 132,000 fans were in attendance over the Austrian Grand Prix weekend, 356,000 attended over the three days of the British Grand Prix weekend.
The Silverstone race was the biggest ticketed event in the United Kingdom since the pandemic began and was run as part of the government’s Events Research programme. Attendance figures surpassed 2019’s total – an impressive feat, considering the British Grand Prix was the best-attended race of the 2019 season.
Tickets on sale for Italian Grand Prix
September’s Italian Grand Prix will go ahead with fans in attendance, with the Monza circuit opening its doors to 50% of its usual capacity. Sadly, ticket prices are substantially higher this year and huge demand has seen the cheapest grandstand tickets sell out in the opening days. The race weekend will be the second time that F1 has used its Sprint Qualifying format. You can find more information, and buy tickets, here.
Saudi Arabian Grand Prix part of calendar re-shuffle?
The inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is set to take place in December. The circuit now has an official name: the Jeddah Corniche Street Circuit, and work is underway on the building of the facility. The decision to race in Saudi Arabia was met with criticism, given the country’s human rights record. In July, race promoters said they had met with a number of drivers to discuss their concerns.
Next year’s running of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix may take place much earlier in the year, with media speculation suggesting it will be the second race of the season, forming a double-header with the Bahrain Grand Prix. Meanwhile, RaceFans report that the dates of this year’s Saudi Arabian and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix may be swapped, meaning that the 2021 season would end with the inaugural Jeddah race.
Bahrain and Barcelona to share pre-season testing in 2022
Formula 1 is set to have a longer pre-season testing period in 2022 than in 2021. While the opening three days are expected to take place at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Feburary 23-25 – which hosted pre-season testing exclusively between 2016 and 2020 – the final three days will be run at Bahrain International Circuit on March 11-13, just days ahead of the season-opening race at the same circuit.
In 2021, there were only three days of testing in total at Bahrain International Circuit. However, with new regulations for 2022, the teams will need more time to get familiar with the new machinery. It has not yet been announced whether fans will be able to spectate at either venue.
This month’s other stories in brief:
- Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali says he is open to axing traditional venues in Europe if they fail to move with the times. Speaking to GQ Magazine, he said: “Of course we’re aware of the importance of tradition and it gives you the ingredients for the future. But if you live by tradition you don’t live long. We need to build foundations for the future.”
- Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and Circuit Paul Ricard have been named as two of the most sustainable racing circuits in the world. The report named Mugello as the most sustainable. The Italian circuit, which hosted the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix, uses 100% renewable energy.
- The Circuit de Spa- Francorchamps has been affected by the recent flooding in Belgium. The track had already been damaged in June as a result of heavy floods. Further adverse weather last month meant that the circuit had to cease operations for a short time, due to nearby collapsed roads and the risk of falling trees.
- British Grand Prix organisers at Silverstone say they would be “delighted” to host a second race at the circuit later this year should Formula 1 require a late addition to the calendar. Stuart Pringle told Motorsport Week: “We haven’t been asked, and it’s not a conversation I’ve prompted, but if us hosting another race gets the championship to a sensible level, of course we would help.”