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F1 season start delayed a week to Bahrain as Australian GP postponed

F1 season start delayed a week to Bahrain as Australian GP postponed

DPA
Berlin
The 2021 Formula One season will start a week later than planned, on March 28 with the Bahrain Grand Prix, after the traditional curtain-raiser in Australia was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
After a 2020 campaign torn apart by the global health crisis, F1 initially hoped to return to normality in the months ahead but travel restrictions in Australia and China – which also postponed its race - forced early changes.
“It has been a busy start to the year at Formula 1 and we are pleased to confirm that the number of races planned for the season remains unchanged,” said Stefano Domenicali, the new pesident and CEO of Formula 1 on Tuesday.
“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.” Bahrain’s Sakhir International Circuit, barely four months after hosting two races in 2020, will hold the opener after the Australian Grand Prix was provisionally delayed eight months from March 21 to November 21.
F1 said that though it was the “although the experience gained and safety measures established last year hold F1 in good stead for 2021, the ongoing situation regarding Covid-19 has meant it is not feasible to begin the season in Melbourne.” Last year’s Australian Grand Prix was cancelled shortly before first practice after a member of the McLaren team tested positive for the coronavirus.
While many races planned for 2020 could be rescheduled and held under a strict hygiene concept, Australia was one of many - like the blue riband Monaco Grand Prix - which did not take place at all.
Last season a revised 17-race season largely conducted behind closed doors though F1 said it still expects fans to return in 2021.
The confirmed postponement of the Chinese Grand Prix, which could yet be squeezed in later, allows Imola to host a race on April 18 after returning to the calendar at short-notice in 2020.
A gap remains on May 2 which could see Portugal host a race in the absence of the planned Vietnam Grand Prix as F1 tries to maintain its intended 23-race record season.
“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,” said Domenicali.
“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.” The new Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is the penultimate race on December 5 before the usual season-ender in Abu Dhabi, with both a week later than originally scheduled.
In 2020 British driver Lewis Hamilton won a record-equalling seventh world title but has not yet renewed his contract with his Mercedes team.
Revised 2021 F1 calendar
March 28: Bahrain (Sakhir Bahrain International Circuit)
April 18: Italy (Imola Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari)
May 2: TBC
May 9: Spain (Barcelona Circuit de Catalunya)
May 23: Monaco (Monte Carlo Circuit de Monaco)
June 6: Azerbaijan (Baku Baku City Circuit)
June 13: Canada (Montreal Circuit Gilles Villeneuve)
June 27: France (Le Castellet Circuit Paul Ricard)
July 4: Austria (Spielberg Red Bull Ring)
July 18: Britain (Silverstone Silverstone Circuit)
August 1: Hungary (Mogyorod Hungaroring)
August 29: Belgium (Spa-Francorchamps Circuit de Spa- Francorchamps)
September 5: Netherlands (Zandvoort Circuit Park Zandvoort)
September 12: Italy (Monza Autodromo Nazionale di Monza)
September 26: Russia (Sochi International Racing Course)
October 3: Singapore (Singapore Marina Bay Street Circuit)
October 10: Japan (Suzuka International Racing Course)
October 24: US (Austin Circuit of The Americas)
October 31: Mexico (Mexico City Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez)
November 7: Brazil (Sao Paulo Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace)
November 28: Australia (Melbourne Albert Park Circuit)
December 5: Saudi Arabia (Jeddah Street Circuit)
December 12: UAE (Abu Dhabi Yas Emirates Marina Circuit)
Still open is the venue for the May 2 race, the Saudi Arabia race is subject to circuit homologation, and the Imola race and new date for Melbourne to approval by the FIA World Motor Sport Council.

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