The Portuguese Grand Prix has been confirmed on the 2021 Formula 1 calendar after a contract with the promoter was finalized, but a later race in Azerbaijan will run without fans.
F1 had listed the third round of the new season as “to be confirmed” in early editions of the draft, with sources indicating that Portimao was always likely to take the slot, subject to COVID-19 restrictions. A recent meeting of the F1 Commission named Portugal as the race but a contract was still to be signed, and that has now been agreed with fans potentially being allowed in.
“We are thrilled to announce that Formula 1 will be racing again in Portimao after the huge success of the race last year,” F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali said. “We want to thank the promoter and the Portuguese Government for their hard work and dedication in getting us to this point.
“We are confident and excited about our 2021 season, having shown last year that we could deliver 17 races safely and bring our millions of fans thrilling racing at a difficult time. We hope to welcome fans to Portimao again this season in a safe way and are working with the promoter on the details of that plan.”
While Portugal might see fans at the third race of the season on May 2, it has been confirmed that the Azerbaijan Grand Prix will take place behind closed doors a month later. The Baku City Circuit runs through the center of the capital city and race organizers say they can’t guarantee at this point that they can “safely host the event with fans present.”
The decision does confirm the race will go ahead this year after dropping off the calendar last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Baku City Circuit executive director Arif Rahimov says it is progress that the event is being held this season.
“We are, of course, thrilled to welcome F1 back to Baku after such a difficult period but we will deeply miss our amazing fans that have played a vital part in making this race weekend such a special occasion year after year,” Rahimov said. “Our message is as simple as it is heartfelt: we miss you and we will see you again!
“Our main priority this year will continue to be the health and safety of everyone working and participating at the event, while still delivering an awesome spectacle to for the world to savor watching from home. We are once again expecting no shortage of drama, high-speeds and excitement when F1 arrives back in Baku for the fifth time this summer, so please sit back, relax and enjoy the 2021 F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix and we will see you all again in person in 2022!”
Azerbaijan takes place on the weekend of June 4-6, with fans who did not request a refund on their 2020 ticket able to use them without additional charge in 2022.