New Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali says the sport has proven it can react to COVID-19 uncertainty and execute a 23-race calendar this year, even if additional schedule changes come in the wake of the postponements of Australia and China.
What was supposed to be the season-opener in Melbourne has moved from March 21 to November 21, meaning Bahrain will now kick the season off on March 28. China has also been postponed due to travel restrictions – with a new date unlikely to be found – and Imola replacing it as round two as the sport returns to Europe earlier than planned.
A double-header of Portimao and Barcelona is expected to take place on the first two weekends of May to get the schedule back on its original course, and Domenicali said the lessons learned from the heavily-disrupted 2020 season leaves F1 well-placed to react to any further changes.
“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,” Domenicali said.
“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.”