F1 may hold two races in Bahrain if Portuguese GP cannot go ahead

2021 F1 season

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Formula 1 could begin its new season with back-to-back races in Bahrain if plans to hold the third round of the season in Portugal are thwarted by the pandemic.

The Autodromo do Algarve in Portugal is the favoured venue for the yet-to-be-confirmed third round on the 2021 F1 calendar. However rising Covid-19 infection rates have put the May 2nd race date in jeopardy.

F1’s plans to race in Portugal could be disrupted if new restrictions are introduced on travel between the country and Britain, where most teams are based. Britain’s infection rate rose rapidly at the beginning of the year and is now falling following the introduction of another lockdown. The pandemic has also spread rapidly in the Iberian country again in recent weeks.

F1 has already relocated pre-season testing to Bahrain following the postponement of the Australian Grand Prix, which made the desert race the opening round of the 2021 season. If a second race is planned at the track, the series may again use the Outer Circuit which was pressed into service when Bahrain held two races at the end of last season.

The addition of a second race in Bahrain, one week after the March 28th season-opener, would have other effects on the calendar. Imola’s race on April 18th would likely be postponed by one week to allow teams sufficient travelling time.

Details of the plan were first reported by Grand Prix Radio in the Netherlands. A Formula 1 spokesperson declined to comment when approached by RaceFans.

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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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  • 24 comments on “F1 may hold two races in Bahrain if Portuguese GP cannot go ahead”

    1. Given the current state of the pandemic in Portugal, I cannot see much popular support for the Algarve race to go ahead, even if cases subside.

      1. José Lopes da Silva
        3rd February 2021, 21:41

        It will surely run on closed doors.

        1. Unfortunately the people in charge are idiotic enough to think it should only go forward with fans in attendance… (because 2020’s GP went so well in terms of crowd control……)


    2. Why not Jerez or Aragon instead on May 2? They’re Spanish tracks that hold the necessary Grade 1 license and are equally favorable to form a double-header with Montmelo as Algarve. Also, favorable climate-wise. What about the German tracks of Nurburgring and Hockenheimring, even if they’re quite chilly at that time or, perhaps even Magny-Cours? Mugello, but it would be better on April 25 because of Imola.
      Holding two races in the same place twice in a year is something that should only be a last-resort thing if achieving at least 15 races was difficult otherwise. Nevertheless, why not give the Paddock Circuit a chance for some variety? https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e0/Bahrain_International_Circuit–Paddock_Circuit.svg
      Lastly, why should Imola get pushed back by seven days when a gap of one race-less weekend (April 11 in this case) is enough for the logistics and travelling time anyway? I don’t get this claim. If racing in Italy two weeks after Bahrain was impossible, neither could Baku and Montreal be on subsequent weekends, for example, so something doesn’t add up in this weird argument. The Singapore GP has taken place two weeks after Monza with a greater distance than that of Bahrain and Imola, and many other examples. Too many to name all, LOL. Bahrain and Imola on consecutive weekends would be a different matter, but not when there’s a gap weekend between.

      1. I don’t know the situation of other circuits in Europe on May 2, but Jerez will already have MotoGP race on that date. But, I agree to you about F1 should organize non-spectator race in Portimao with charging less fee than desired fee, or look at other venues in Europe for the date of May 2; even this mentioned Plan B for 2 races in Bahrain would seem as more feasible and profitable. And Portimao has already announces to organize WEC and MotoGP races in April, if these races will go ahead, I don’t see any real problem to organize F1 race in Portimao on May 2 unless if the organizators do not have enough money.

        Since Bahrain has already more than one Grade 1 layouts, for me it is not such a big problem to hold more than one races in there, but this would be problem for any other venues. Imo, I don’t like to have races in shorter layouts; but since the Sakhir GP was exciting, I wouldn’t annoy for seeing another F1 race in Outer Layout; and imo, Outer Layout is more suitable than Paddock Layout for F1.

        For the last paragraph, the logistical situations in F1 has always been too strange; they finally realized putting Sochi before Singapore and Suzuka seems much more viable in this year, but they put back-to-back races between Baku and Montreal. And it is still too early to make changes in the calendar, and F1 must also decide whether the races of Monaco, Azerbaijan, and Canada would go ahead or not? In my opinion, maybe the decision for the race of May 2 and these races must be made in mid-March, but I would not be surprised the announcement will be made at the end of February, since there will be FIA World Motorsports Council meeting on March 5.

        1. I wish the Indian Government revives the Buddh Circuit and has the third round at BIC. It would be lovely to see the cars zooming around at Buddh again

          1. @A It wouldn’t be fitting seven days before Spain.

        2. @bengibaris Well, Jerez is out of the question after all. Thanks for letting me know about Moto GP scheduled to be there on the weekend of May 2. My error for not checking any track’s event calendar beforehand. You make some good points in your reply, though.
          Regarding your separate post below: I don’t think F1 would go to Bahrain separately later in the year if this is what you mean, i.e., if two races were to take place a la last season, they’d happen consecutively at the beginning rather than one at each end.

          1. No, I wanted to mention the situation differently than you thought, and imo, it would be with little probability. Actually, for the races on second half (later) of the season, I cannot predict any risk on the possibility of holding races except Singapore now. But if there would be any cancellation on any of these races (of course depending on the calendar time); for instance if Australia GP would be cancelled again, maybe Bahrain-Outer would be thought for replacing this race on its date Nov 21 (Actually Sakhir WEC race will be on this date, but FIA would adjust its date again like last year by putting this race 1-2 week earlier or 1 week later).

    3. In January, it has been already announced that Portimao will host a WEC race in 4th April, and MotoGP race in 18th April. If these races will go ahead, why would not F1 race be organized on 2nd May even without the spectators despite the ongoing pandemic situation now? Maybe it would be better for both Portugal GP organizators and F1 to charge fee based on the amount of spectators (setting specific minimum fee for non-spectator race, maybe lower than 2020 race fee)

      For Sakhir GP (Bahrain-Outer), I enjoyed the race much despite being not favorite of short layouts, this plan seems to be feasible Plan B; but in my opinion it is much better to go ahead with the Portugal GP on 2nd May even without spectators and to arrange Sakhir GP if F1 will have problem for organizing races on Asia or Americas on the 2nd half of season.

    4. Gavin Campbell
      3rd February 2021, 16:52

      Actually at the moment the big rumour doing the rounds is that Moto GP are going to bail out of their preseason test and double header in Qatar and move to a Jerez test followed by a Portimao race.

      So it is interesting that the rumour mill is going completly in the other direction for F1.

    5. Can Bahrain be run backwards and be safe enough for modern GP RACING?
      Thinking that most runoffs are designed for one direction of racing. I think this kind of challenge having two consecutive events could be a real challenge for F1. One week one direction. Then next week maybe just go the 100% WRONG direction. Could be much more interesting than that silly Oval that was used last time considering this is Grand Prix racing and is not a Saturday Night shoot out spectacular at your community race track. Yeah it’s another Covid impacted race but it’s what we get again. Nobody is at fault as so many are really struggling at how to pull a race off. Have to believe there will be ZERO racing at Silverstone this year. Today it’s among the most dangerous spots on Earth to be.with their English Virus. So sorry to the English stay strong. Remember REAL F1 racing will again be postponed for 2021 and the variations of tracks must be considered instead. Plus if Lewis steps aside then the whole point of racing comes into consideration for all of 2021. Just cancel the entire season and hope that 2022 starts with this mess behind us. New cars new challenges a new time. Racing as it was intended not a bunch of Bahrain’s back to back to ???

      1. Autosport did an article on looking at all existing tracks in reverse. Most were absolute non-starters (I think Bahrain was effectively classified as this) and if I remember correctly only Paul Ricard had any chance of doing this whilst being economically feasible.

        1. José Lopes da Silva
          3rd February 2021, 21:42

          Moreover, there will hardly exist any experiment with Bahrain’s safety requirements.

        2. @chimaera2003 Paul Ricard also has parts where the runoff room is insufficient for the opposite running direction.

    6. Portimao is a terrific venue, and Kimi’s first lap there was the best since Alonso’s at the Hungaroring, 2006 GP, I’d be sorry to miss it.

    7. If this happens it is crazy to think that we will have 4 races in a same track within like a couple of months.

      1. Yeah, 4 out of 5 consecutive races at the same circuit.

    8. Stephen Higgins
      4th February 2021, 9:31

      They way things are going we may end up racing on all three of Bahrain’s layouts at this rate …

      1. The way things are going we might end up with half the season in Bahrain.

        But seriously now, it’s possible that we will see more double headers than last year.

    9. I have a simple view on this. As long as there is racing, I dont care where it is and I will watch it.

    10. Why not handing Mercedes the throphy and let them figure out which contracted driver to give it to? Saves a lot of money and frustration and lets teams focus on 2022 season.

      1. But Hamilton wouldn’t sign his extension if they did that, so… first championship for Russell?

    11. I think it would be a tad depressing to have 4 races in Bahrain in 5 rounds.

      Getting to Formula E levels of Berlin overload.

    Comments are closed.