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Draft 2021 F1 calendar presented to teams with 23 races

2021 F1 calendar

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A draft 2021 F1 calendar was presented to teams at yesterday’s meeting of the Formula 1 Commission, RaceFans understands.

Sources have indicated the schedule is along similar lines to the original calendar which was planned for the 2020 season before the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

However while 22 races were originally due to take place this year, as many as 23 could take place in 2021. As previously reported these would include a new race on a street circuit in Jeddah, the second-largest city in Saudi Arabia.

The first Vietnam Grand Prix, which was supposed to take place earlier this year, will finally be held in Hanoi. The delayed return of the Dutch Grand Prix is expected to take place in September having originally been scheduled for May this year before being cancelled due to the pandemic.

The Dutch round will begin the first of a pair of triple-headers. It will be followed on consecutive weekends by visits to Spa and Monza. Later in the season F1 will also visit Singapore, Sochi and Suzuka within a three-week period.

Melbourne is slated to hold the season-opening race in March. However pre-season testing is likely to take place in Bahrain, and be held over just three days.

Questions remain over the possible relocation of Brazil’s round of the world championship from Sao Paolo to Rio de Janeiro, where a new circuit is planned, but faces opposition on environmental grounds. A new race in Miami, which was originally planned to take place in 2019 but has faced repeated delays, does not feature on the schedule, despite F1 having previously announced an “agreement in principle” to hold a race in May next year.

F1 aims to hold as many races possible with full spectator attendance once the season begin in March. However it expects some may have to be held with as little as 50% attendance due to ongoing restrictions related to Covid-19.

Formula 1 teams gave their feedback on the proposed schedule, which the series will consider in conjunction with race promoters to form a final calendar for the 72nd running of the world championship.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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74 comments on “Draft 2021 F1 calendar presented to teams with 23 races”

  1. I would personally love an overstuffed calendar, but I feel for the team members. That’s a lot of being away from home.

  2. It’s a well paid lifestyle with tons of benefits and paid expenses.

    1. Absolutely, but don’t underestimate the toll it takes on lives. My brother is a mechanic and has found this year (since the season started) to be hard work. he’s enjoyed it, but the triple headers in particular make for a lot of time away from home. Yes, he’s getting to travel the world when most of us are stuck at home. Yes, he’s working in a sport most of us would love to be a part of. Yes, he’s in a fairly nicely paid job when some people are becoming unemployed.

      It’s easy to forget though that he’s spent a huge proportion of his time away from his family, his friends, his home comforts. His sleeping is all over the place as he works such long hours. His down time is usually when everyone else is at work. It can play havoc with relationships, health (both mental and physical) and a great many other things.

      They’re all his choices of course and he loves it, but it’s easy to look and only see the good bits about working in F1.

      1. @ben-n I didn’t know a close relative of yours is a mechanic for an F1 team.
        #YouAlwaysLearnSomethingNew
        Nice insight, though.

        1. @jerejj, yes, he works for Haas. Adds another bit of fun watching the races trying to spot him on the pit stops (not that many Haas stops are shown at the moment!).

          1. @ben-n it does seem to be forgotten that, for the superficial show of glitz and glamour that the sport likes to project, things are often rather less glamorous and rather more hard work than people seem to think it is when you look behind the scenes.

    2. GtisBetter (@passingisoverrated)
      27th October 2020, 15:57

      Just because rich companies flash their checkbooks, doesn’t mean people should blindly accept it. It’s always good to fight for a good work/free time balance.

      1. Yes correct.. its called not accepting an offer. One can always join the govt.. perfect 9-5 job.. no pressure..

        1. Nell (@imabouttogoham)
          27th October 2020, 23:03

          Your inability to show empathy strikes as jealousy

    3. I recall an article a short while ago that mentioned that salaries & benefits for the average team member are not all that high and that most could actually earn better in other industries.

      No sure its anywhere near as glamourous or well paid as you think.

  3. Covid looks like it is here to stay, does this plan take into account covid during 2021? The next few months in northern territory winter are not looking pronising in EU and in US

    1. @kpcart Indeed as COVID will still be around next year, so I wouldn’t put it past some events getting called off for the second consecutive year, notably the temporary tracks due to their lead time for the build-up process and the necessity to have attendees.

  4. With the Covid crisis still looming for some times, fully expect another year of “fluid” adjustments to that agenda. With hopefully, the return of Mugello, Imola and Portugal. This was probably the only positive side effect of Covid, but a really welcome one.

  5. Still thing 20+ races is too many, Just starts to feel like all your doing every weekend is watching F1 with very little time for anything else…. Especially since Liberty pushed race start times an hour later.

    I love F1, I really do & I love watching every race live & have done so for every race since 1995. But the more races that have been added beyond 18-19 the more like a chore some of them have started to feel to watch & the less special each one feels. The past couple years when the season went above 20 in particular it’s started to feel more like just a routine thing most weekends rather than a special event I look forward to every 2-3 weeks from late March to Mid/Late October as was the case in the past.

    And yes I know I don’t have to watch them all, But for me each race is like a chapter of a book that each tell’s it’s own story. You miss one & maybe you miss an important detail, A part of the story that becomes important later on.

    And something I think has made my feelings on this stronger the past decade or so is how samey so many of the circuits now feel. It’s not like the past where we had 17/18 circuits that each had a different look, A unique characteristic or different challenges. They all look very similar, They all share very similar characteristics & even the classics have been made to feel a bit more like the newer one’s in some respects.

    They have added the quantity but I honestly feel like we have lost the quality.

    1. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
      27th October 2020, 16:39

      @stefmeister
      Totally agree with you. Personally, I think what should happen is the F1 calendar should have 18 concrete races that the series regularly visits every year. Then have 2 bonus races on the calendar that are not your typical track that changes every year. One year the two races could be mugelo and portugal. Then the following year two different tracks. I think having these non-typical tracks have been great as a fan to watch.

      1. F1 calendar should have 18 concrete races that the series regularly visits every year. Then have 2 bonus races

        I’d much rather have 2 fixed races with 18 alternating ones.

        1. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
          27th October 2020, 18:51

          @coldfly
          I was just thinking baby steps, lol.

          But I think the challenge would be the investors and the need to locking down long term deals. After all, it’s all about money with this series! But as a fan, I really enjoy watching races at tracks that F1 normally does not race at.

          1. I really enjoy watching races at tracks that F1 normally does not race at.

            And in line with the baby steps they should only award them the 2 day GPs with a single FP session.
            @flyingferrarim

    2. Jose Lopes da Silva
      27th October 2020, 18:01

      I think the goal is to turn it more like football, which gives us 34 or 38 rounds per season, Champions League not included.

    3. F1 is one of the easier sports to spectate. There are very few sports that take up less of your time. The only one that comes to mind is the NFL if you’re skipping the playoffs.

      It’s an easy threeish hours a week to watch pretty much everything that matters.

  6. 23 races, my reaction: insane.

    I loved this ~17ish races season, I watch the sport for +20 years and sometimes many is too much.

    1. @jeff1s Yes!! Been watching since 2000. Maybe in America people are happy to watch sport every weekend but I think the rest of the world, we all have lives as well.. I used to watch every race but now I can’t and the more I miss the more I’m happy to miss. 20 is absolutely enough. I’d prefer 16-18. Races used to feel more special when there were less of them. Definitely feels more special this year with less races and some really special tracks! I’m expecting next year may be dull with all the ordinary circuits and the “same” cars.

  7. I can’t see the Asian races going ahead as well as most of if not all of the races in the Americas. Australia for March seems optimistic.

    Asia has worked hard to keep out the virus, so they aren’t about to let in hundreds of personnel without thorough testing and quarantines in place. Just too hard for once race weekend.

    I think 2021 will be similar to 2020 where it’s a European series with some races in the Middle East.

    1. @David Bondo True could be difficult, although I’m more skeptical about the street tracks than permanent ones.

    2. Nell (@imabouttogoham)
      27th October 2020, 23:07

      Some of these places also aren’t going to skip being paid for a second straight year.

      From my amateur understanding of this virus, there’s a higher chance of it being passed around in a place with less regulations about it, i.e. I’m not surprised the Strolls got it in Russia. I don’t think there’ll be infections in the Chinese or Australian round.

      1. Those countries have few infections because their borders are essentially shut.

        Are those governments going to let in hundreds if not 1000+ drivers, crew members, general staff, journalists, etc that follow the F1 season around the world for a three day F1 weekend?

        Seems like a whole lot of trouble during a pandemic.

  8. where is hockenheim????????

    1. @armando Not an essential target track. Maybe, if some get called off.

      1. Of course it’s essential. It just doesn’t have funds to pay the extortionate hosting fees.

        1. @ho3n3r I meant it isn’t a great priority for a full schedule, but maybe for a more European-based one under these circumstances.

      2. jere but this season no hockenheim maybe neyt year,, why saudi arabia again street race i dont like new circiuts.

    2. It’s in Germany I think!!

  9. It’s getting to the point where the product is too saturated. I echo many of the comments from @stefmeister. I’ve watched every race (live whenever I can) for as long as I can remember. I used to spend two weeks looking forward to the next Grand Prix, but now it’s almost every weekend it’s just too much in my opinion. I struggle to feel excited by it all. I love the races when I watch them, but I don’t feel the same sense of anticipation… maybe it’s just that I’m getting older too.

    We should try to have a standard 20 race calendar in my opinion. Four classic protected tracks (Silverstone, Monaco, Spa, Monza), five alternating European rounds (eg: Netherlands, France, Germany, Russia, Spain, Portugal, Azerbaijan etc.), four alternating rounds in the Americas (eg: Texas, Miami, Mexico, Brazil, Canada etc.), five alternating rounds for Asia/Australia (eg: Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Vietnam, China, India etc.), then two wildcards which are different every year…

    Maybe that leaves us with too much Europe and too complex a system… but who knows… good job I’m not in charge!

    1. @ben-n I love your proposal. I’d even add that the two wildcard races should be non-championship rounds and something unique which the sport doesn’t do: perhaps an oval race in the U.S., Bathurst (or other long-distance race), and maybe a rally-style race (perhaps something like Goodwood but on a bit of a longer track) so the spectators can get closer to “the show” Liberty can put this on pretty much wherever they would like to make a “pitch” to host F1.

  10. I think the old saying ‘quality not quantity ‘ sums it up. Sure, some might like year-round entertainmant but I think it’s getting to the point of being non-sustainable unless they go more 2 day w/ends.
    I guess we all have the option of not watching our less fav tracks & taking a break from it.

    1. Tracks that are likely to produce boring F1 racing like Australia, Russia, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Vietnam, Monaco, Monza, Paul Ricard, Zandvoort, and Baku are all on the calendar for different reasons (often $).

      If we’d lose those and add some of the tracks unique for this year and Hockenheim (and I still like the India track tbh) the racing would be better and the calendar would be less crowded. F1 would also make significantly less money overall though.

      1. Zandvoort lets try that first before saying it’s boring and Baku gives enough stuff to not be boring.

      2. I defend Monaco and Monza
        Monaco is a relatively slow speed upclose track view of the cars where the Qualifying session is the most important and that’s something another track doesn’t offer
        Monza is a high speed low drag track and Ferrari’s “home” and that is it’s character, you get to see the cars at their angriest
        Basically these two have something to say about them that is unique to them
        Australia I’d say it’s the opening weekend, it doesn’t start with fireworks and isn’t too boring, it’s meh which in my opinion is ok for an opening round after months of no action
        If it loses it’s opening weekend slot then it’d be less than that

  11. A race in Arabia and not race in Portimao?
    The owners of formula 1 are…

    1. I agree. Tragic and appalling I call it. Short sighted, money grabbers.

  12. This calendar is optimistic, to say the least. A calendar of sorts has to be announced I guess, contractually speaking but I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the flyaways and street races aren’t possible next year.

  13. I have no problem with extra races in principle, but given how predictable F1 is these days, I struggle to get excited by the prospect of more racing.

  14. Over 20 races is too many. 18 feels about right. They definitely need to make it easier to watch on demand though – loving in the UK and watch through NOW TV, which most of the time is OK; but I’d like to be able to watch at a time of my choosing (would be a Sunday evening) if they are going to give us 23 races!

  15. Many have echoed my feelings about this. Hardly anyone seems to want 23 races in a season, or more than 20 really. Except Liberty that is. I watch nearly every race, the highlights though mostly as I refuse to give money to Sky. Even so I get complaints along the lines of ‘not F1 again’. I know things will change over the years but what is this gaining us.

    Why on earth is F1 going to Saudi Arabia(!) apart from money that is? It’s yet another country with an appalling human rights record. I wish someone would show sum guts and stand up to Liberty on this. There surely must be reservations in lots of quarters (teams, drivers, some sponsors).

    This season has been really quite exciting with the new circuits and older ones from the past reappearing. My manifesto, taking into account realism to a degree, would be to have 9 races in Europe (France or Spain, Monaco, the Netherlands, Austria, Britain, Hungary, Belgium, Italy and the one other e.g. Portimao, Mugello, etc) which includes adding one of the new or renewed circuits, 1 in Australia, 3 in the Americas (Canada, U.S., Mexico), 3 in central Asia/Arabia (Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi) and 4 in the Far East (China, Vietnam, Singapore, Japan). So 20 in total. You may notice that Russia is dropped.

    I had assumed Brazil would be dropping off the calendar but if it stays, and I hope Interlagos does, then maybe 4 in the Americas and 3 in the Far East instead.

    This is not going to happen I know, but then is Liberty’s 23 race calendar likely to happen with Covid-19 not loosening its grip it seems.

    1. not trying to be aggressive here, but speak for yourself. i’d love 23 races. i don’t think i fall into the “hardly anyone” category. I’m sure Liberty has done their homework. if there were no demand for 23 races it would never happen. maybe the people on this site wouldn’t want 23 races (or some of them at least) but that’s a drop in the ocean…

      1. I agree, bring them on. People harp on about when we ran just 18 races in the 90’s and 2000’s but they used to have a full team out almost every week testing some where hot! Until recently there was three weeks testing before the season started and a week during. So now they do there testing at the race weekend. I bet they are spending less (in real terms) than back then. 2021 there will only be four days testing before racing begins. So I’m looking forward to 23 GP’s, as long as Lewis does not win them all!

      2. OK. Hardly anyone might be an exaggeration I accept. I think I recall a survey on here a few weeks ago where people were asked how many races they thought was the best number. I am fairly sure about 70% wanted the number of races to stay the same or ideally be reduced. So it’s clear 30% or so is not hardly anyone.

        I think at some point in the last year or so there was a survey on the actual F1 website that came out with a similar result to this. So I don’t think this site is all that unrepresentative of the wider fan base.

        I actually doubt that Liberty really care that much what the majority of people think about the number of races. I imagine their primary concern is the financial bottom line. More races means more hosting fees and possibly more tv income. So the more the better seems to be their attitude. I am sure they want the show to be entertaining and competitive though. I still really don’t understand the desire to hold races in places like Saudi Arabia though. Financial benefit I think must again be the driving force.

        Anyway we all have our own opinions. So good luck with the 23 races. I’m glad you have time to watch them all and I hope they’re good.

        1. I agree with you @phil-f1-21 that 23 is too much and recall the same surveys that you do.

          I’d also be interested to know whether those that are saying they want 23 or more actually watch/attend all qualifying and races or just skim highlights.

          I’m finding it harder and harder to indulge in F1 each race now, particularly this year with all the packed triple headers. I’ll actually admit to not bothering with any of the last few races practice sessions at all, and just watching some of qualifying and not 100% of the races so whilst Liberty is planning to gouge more fees, they’re losing some eyeball time, at least from me which might just end up costing them.

          Eyeballs = sponsors – if they start losing eyeballs because of over saturation, they hopefully might start looking at quality again instead of chasing rich autocratic states.

          1. Give me 25 races per year – on one condition*
            I do watch all sessions of all races and in full. It’s not too much because I choose how much I watch.
            I also watch several other series in full too, plus highlights of others.
            I enjoy motor racing, so I watch it as much as I feel comfortable with. If I’ve had enough, I don’t watch.

            *Quality races… Interesting, exciting and unpredictable races.
            Not the current sort – dull, predictable and uneventful. 15 of those is enough.

  16. I think 23 is too much. I’d be happy with what we have this year, 17. I love F1 and behind the racing for P4 back is a joy to watch but personally I have no interest in Sochi, A Saudi race, a new Brazil circuit and Paul Ricard curcuit. Stick with the classic circuits and get rid of these dull run off filled bore fests. I’ve loved seeing these circuits like the Portugal one and Mugello.

    1. The new Brazil track seems to be off the table.

  17. It’s too many, I think. Shortage adds value to a product, and in this case, not only in money terms. Like others have said, I have difficults to get excited about “the next race” when there are so many races. If the target is to be like football, I think is a complete error that can destroy the sport. At least for me. I like football, but I don’t see the 38 games of my team every year. Hardly watch half of them. I know with formula 1 this is not going to be the case, because I like very much more F1 than football, but the excitement, the “special feeling” of knowing that a Grand Prix is going to take place that weekend, is fading out.

  18. 23 is too many, especially if there’s dominance in the air (which seems likely).

    A lot of people professing love for 17 races, but we can’t forget that the season started in July, not March, so those 17 races are being crammed in a very short space of time. Downtime from December to July every year is not so wonderful, and 17 races spread out over that period of time leaves big gaps. 20 seems a bit more sensible than both.

  19. Does this increase in races mean removing friday practice as some have suggested would be required for an increase in races?

    1. @skipgamer Probably so, although removing Friday practice was already set to happen for 2021 even before COVID.

  20. I don’t think 23 races is fair on the teams and the driver’s. A few years ago we had a situation where 20 was deemed to be the absolute maximum, yet here we are in a position were it’s been proposed to have an increase of 15% over the “maximum”.

    I think that this year’s tripple headers have been used as a template for liberty to push the envelope and show it can be done, however all races this year have been confined to in and around europe. We do not have any fly aways as are proposed in this calendar.

    I’ve also read a few comments about how the employees are working “dream” jobs, they are getting paid well, and that it should be accepted as part of the job. This attitude allows people in high positions to exploit employees through the guise of “it’s your passion, this is your dream, you better do the job” to get people to make unreasonable sacrifices that seriously degrade thier quality of life. I do not agree with it, nor do I think the f1 teams should agree to it too. Just because a job is perceived to be a high privilege, should not allow the workers to be exploited. They, like all employees, deserve to not be overworked, have opportunities that most of us take for granted without having to sacrifice everything.

    I’m at a point in my career where I’m looked up to by alot of people. People think my job is amazing (it is), but in my early career, I’d see employers expect everything from thier employees, expect them to sacrifice everything, work horrendous hours for free over the idea that this was thier dream, and yet get nothing in return. The situation of this calendar is different, but it’s a step in the wrong direction. A maximum race limit needs to come back.

  21. 23 is too much for me, having a race every week dilutes its anticipation. At least make double and triple headers a 2 day event like upcoming Imola.

  22. From a selfish point of view I love the fact that there are now likely to be 3 races in the Gulf region…because I just moved back here. :)

  23. I know I am but a dreamer, but every year I hope they’ll drop China, Russia, and now Saudi Arabia. Oh well,“Optimism is the opium of the people.”said Milan Kundera, and I’m high as a kite.

    1. Will the drivers take a knee for Saudi atrocities in Yemen?

      1. Or Chinese atrocities in Tibet, Xinjiang, and Hong Kong, or Russian atrocities in Ukraine, Georgia, Syria… nah even I’m not that optimistic.

        1. Or for British atrocities during the Raj? Or American torturing of prisoners during its war on terror? Or for the Japanese atrocities in Nanking?

          You don’t have to dig very deep to find something bad in the history of every country F1 visits.

          1. But they’re kneeling at the start of every race for a guy that died in far flung Minneapolis. Why not for all the Yemenis that are getting slaughtered?

  24. It’s provisional so I expect about 20 races which is good, 23 is too many.

    Hopefully we don’t lose many to Covid, but I expect some to go or be replaced.

    Not sure we need more street circuits but Baku has produced some good races so fingers crossed.

  25. Quality is where F1 needs to be aiming – but quality and quantity aren’t mutually exclusive.
    Less races doesn’t make each one better. It just makes them rarer.

    If holding less races makes people happier, then that only shows how poor F1 really is at satisfying viewers. Those people don’t want to see any more….
    That’s a pretty depressing reality…. I wonder how F1 would go selling that concept to their sponsors.

  26. Are there 23 nominated in the hope that somewhere around 18-20 will actually take place?

    1. @PeterP Maybe. F1 or LM and FIA would be foolish to not have any kind of backup plan in the event some of the events couldn’t take place even next year due to circumstances caused by COVID.

  27. Are returning to Spa and Monaco and keeping Algarve, Mugello, Istanbul Park and Imola. Just I LOVE those tracks. You could remove Abu Dhabi (not much point with a street race in Jeddah, which is literally next door to Abu Dhabi, plus… Y’know, the track) Spain (Portugal next door) Mexico (Texas is pretty close to Mexico, and is a way better track) Russia (close enough to Sochi, which means Putin wouldn’t have to go far because he would get A N G E R Y if he couldn’t watch F1) and get rid of two others, just don’t remove Silverstone, Monza, Japon, Singapore, Zandvoort, Hanoi, Baku, Canada, Hungary or Austria, since they are great tracks. Also we NEED a race or two in Africa. Kyalami is a good track and build a new one in Kenya or Uganda.

  28. Covid is rapidly rising again, worse than the initial shock of this menace.
    Formula One might have to end its 2020 season by next Monday.
    There is no valid reason to continue at this point.
    F1-2021 should be put on hold until the extent of this third wave is understood. Looks like it’s a whole bunch worse and it has begun.
    Let me say this , I think we all had enough of this God Damn Virus for once and for all. Everyone should be feeling it. Be aware be afraid but be smarter. You have the power to wear the mask.
    If we all do, then maybe real racing with Fans will happen

    1. @HOLMZINI Why would or should this season have to end after this weekend’s event in Imola? I’m fully positive the scheduled events in Turkey, Bahrain, and Abu Dhabi can go ahead without spectators in attendance. Two of these have already been confirmed as going ahead without attendees, and I reckon Bahrain to follow suit.

  29. What not use it as a chance to employ more people and put teams on a rota so that each team does 12 rounds.

    +employment
    +time at home for team members
    +less burnout
    – more salary expense for teams

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