The third round of the 2021 season is set to take place in Portugal after approval from the F1 Commission for the “to be confirmed” event.
When F1 announced its 2021 calendar, the absence of Vietnam led to a vacant slot that was simply marked as TBC. Following further calendar reshuffling, that event was moved to the weekend before the Spanish Grand Prix on May 2, following an opening round in Bahrain and then return to Imola.
Portimao was always planned to be the third race — having hosted a race last year and with a convenient location to pair with Barcelona — but the ongoing COVID-19 situation in Europe had cast doubt on its viability. At present, quarantine regulations demand anyone arriving in the United Kingdom from Portugal must quarantine in specific hotels for 10 days.
Despite that, the F1 Commission has now approved the race in Portugal, with those involved in executing the event potentially able to travel directly to Spain for the following round and not return to the UK over a week later. With the races scheduled for early May, the hope is that the quarantine situation will have eased by that time.
“The group was updated on the ‘TBC’ space on the current version of the 2021 calendar,” an FIA statement read. “It is the intention of Formula 1 to fill the position with a race in Portugal on the dates already held in the calendar. The final agreement is still subject to contract with the promoter.
“Robust COVID-19 protocols enabled Formula 1 to run 17 events in 2020 and will enable us to run a World Championship again in 2021. While changing circumstances may require flexibility, the FIA and Formula 1 are working at all levels from government to local organization to ensure that the calendar goes ahead as planned.”
The confirmation means both Portimao and Imola have retained a place on the new calendar after being drafted in at late notice due to the disruption to last year’s schedule.
As with the other decisions being made by the F1 Commission, any changes to the calendar require FIA World Motor Sport Council approval, but this is usually a formality.