In a normal year, we’d be almost down to the last race of an F1 calendar but in 2020, we still have 4 races to go. While the sport was able to organise some brilliant stand-in circuits in place of the cancelled GPs for the delayed season, the admins have already worked out an even longer calendar for the 2021 season. Here’s the provisional 2021 Formula 1 season as of now:
Zandvoort’s second chance
The sport of F1 was to make its return to the Netherlands this year at the iconic Zandvoort circuit, but unfortunately, it was one of the venues that got cancelled due to the global pandemic circumstances. Luckily, if the world doesn’t go-to-pot in 2021, we’ll get to see some F1 action around the historic track next year. It’s also a special venue for fans of Dutch racer Max Verstappen. I’ve been able to have a virtual go around the track in the F1 2020 game and I am quite excited to see how the track’s distinct characteristics come into play in a real-world F1 race.
Retains Sao Paulo, Suzuka among other icons
There aren’t near as many iconic circuits in the modern F1 calendar as long term fans would wish. While we did get to see some interesting races at new or returning tracks in 2020, we had to miss out on Brazil and Japan Grand Prix. Luckily, both these circuits are still there for the 2021 calendar along with Spa, Silverstone, Red Bull Ring and of course, Monza.
However, it is worth noting the asterisk next to the Sao Paolo GP on the provisional calendar states that the event is subject to the organiser’s contract with Formula 1. Hopefully, nothing goes wrong with this part of the plan next year.
Most races in a season ever
While 2020 was meant to be the busiest F1 calendar ever with 22 races, the sport seems eager to make up for the short season it turned out to be. For 2021, there are 23 Grand Prix planned which would be the new record for most races in a single Formula 1 season. There are a few triple-headers too, and as a fan, I do love back-to-back weekends with F1 action.
W Series support races
Motorsport is a male-dominated sport. Talking outside of discriminatory circumstances, it is fair to say that female drivers are not able to find similar support as their male rivals to build their racing careers. To offer more opportunity and better representation to female racing drivers, the W Series was established in 2018 for a grid of entirely female racers. After the success of their inaugural season in the 2019 season, the sport has partnered with F1 to be the supporting race event at 8 Grand Prix weekends. Which 8 races? We don’t know yet but I’d like to see them spread across a variety of tracks and would love to see these races live. Maybe on YouTube if not on my local broadcaster’s channels.
I’ll be doing a small story on the W Series single-seater Formula racing championship in more detail soon so stay tuned to the blog to know more about it.
No Vietnamese GP
This was the big news for the 2020 circuit: a new venue for the sport and the hopes of an exciting city circuit. But then I was able to experience it virtually in the F1 2020 video game and I’m glad it got cancelled. I have nothing against the hosts but the circuit design is absolutely dreadful and it’s not even pretty from the cockpit. Luckily, it seems to have been dumped from the 2021 calendar and its slot is up for grabs and early rumours suggest Malaysia might bid for it.
New Saudi GP
The country of Saudi Arabia is the newest one to join the Formula 1 calendar as the penultimate race of the 2021 calendar. While the first race will be hosted on a street circuit in the city of Jeddah, there are plans to host F1 at a dedicated circuit if the partnership continues. The public reputation of Saudi Arabia is mostly around the discriminatory and repressive culture. However, the current regime seems interested in catching up with the times somewhat and hence has been actively hosting global sporting events. It’s to be seen if the race can be held uncontroversially as political sentiments could change in the meantime. Meanwhile, the nation’s Emirati neighbour still gets to host the season finale in Abu Dhabi.
No Portugese or German GP
We got to see some fun circuits make their debuts in 2020 while some returned after a long hiatus. Though iconic in their location or history, not all of them gave us the best of racing. None of these circuits has been included for the 2021 calendar and the most glaring misses are that of Portimao and Nurburgring. I understand that the sport intends to travel to newer locations every year but we need a healthy dose of circuits that make F1 worth watching, to begin with.
Paul Ricard and Catalunya still on the calendar
From glaring misses to annoying placeholders, these two circuits offer the least interesting races to watch. I’d have thrown Hungaroring in there as well if I could but it’s still not as frustrating to watch as the other two. While the Catalunya circuit is boring as hell, the Paul Ricard circuit is an eyesore as well. In their current state, I think the F1 calendar would be better off without them and we already know what tracks we could replace them with (see the previous point).
Too many uninteresting races
23 races. I’m looking forward to 9 of them. One is undecided and the remaining 11 are likely to be snoozefests. What’s the point of increasing the number of races when they’re not increasing my interest or will to follow the sport? How has F1 been allowed to spend approve boring tracks for the sake of catering to a new audience? To name my least favourite to watch: Sochi, Paul Ricard, Catalunya, Sakhir, Abu Dhabi, Melbourne.
What do you think of the 2021 Formula 1 Calendar? Which circuits are you looking forward to most and which one is your least liked? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to subscribe to The Auto Loons blog and follow us on Twitter too (@autoloons).