F1 preview: A lap of the Bahrain Grand Prix
Formula 1 unveiled a revised calendar following the following the postponements of the Australian and Chinese Grands Prix. The traditional curtain-raiser at Melbourne’s Albert Park will move to November. The Shanghai race was due to take place on April 11 but it will now only go ahead if another round drops off the schedule.
The decisions on both countries come as a result of strict Covid-19 travel restrictions.
In a statement, F1 said: “In 2020, F1 became the first truly international sport to restart following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“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.
“The good news, however, is that the Australian Grand Prix will now take place from the 18th – 21st November following an agreement between Formula 1 and the Australian authorities that shows the importance of the race in Australia to Formula 1 and their partners in Melbourne.
“As stated previously, Formula 1 expects fans to return to the grandstands and the exclusive Paddock Club for the 2021 season.”
When is the Bahrain Grand Prix?
The Bahrain Grand Prix will now become the first race of the 2021 season.
The race will take place on Sunday, March 28 before heading to Europe for a race in Imola on April 18.
Australia’s new November date of means the campaign will be extended by one week, with Abu Dhabi Grand Prix closing out the season on December 12.
The British Grand Prix retains its original July 18 slot as F1 remains confident of staging a record-breaking 23-round season.
F1’s new boss Stefano Domenicali said: “It has been a busy start to the year at Formula One and we are pleased to confirm that the number of races planned for the season remains unchanged.
“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.
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“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.
“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 One 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 Chinese Grand Prix was the first race to be postponed in last year’s Covid-disturbed schedule.
The Australian race was cancelled after a McLaren mechanic tested positive for coronavirus following his arrival in Melbourne.
The sport then came up with revised 17-round season in just 23 weeks, with Lewis Hamilton clinching a record-equalling seventh world championship.
Most of those races were held behind closed doors but it is hoped fans could be present for the opening round in Bahrain.
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