After drastically revising the 2020 schedule as 13 races were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, F1 was clear in its plan to run a calendar for next season closer to normal.
Teams were handed the first draft of the schedule at Monday’s F1 Committee meeting, which features all 10 competitors plus officials from F1 and FIA.
Motorsport.com has learned that the tentative calendar for 2021 includes 23 races, adding a major prize in Saudi Arabia to the current 22 races planned this year.
The 2021 F1 season in Australia is set to begin on March 21, followed by the Bahrain Grand Prix one week later.
A two-week gap will follow before the Chinese Grand Prix on April 11th, with the inaugural Grand Prix of Vietnam scheduled to take place two weeks later.
One of the biggest changes from the planned schedule in 2020 is the transformation of the Dutch Grand Prix in Zandvoort into the autumn dates slot.
The race was scheduled to open the European season at the beginning of May this year, but it will now form part of a European triathlon with the Belgian Grand Prix and the Italian Grand Prix after the summer break.
This means that the Spanish Grand Prix returns to its traditional status as the first European race of the year, taking place on May 9, ahead of Monaco on May 23.
Azerbaijan will maintain its planned slot transformation in June of 2020, in conjunction with the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, ahead of the regular tour of European events in France, Austria, Great Britain and Hungary, with the latter hosting the final race before the summer break on August 1.
The dates for the second half of the calendar remain fluid, but a second triple header is scheduled to consist of races in Singapore, Russia and Japan.
Although the 2020 final calendar included four triple races, including a series of nine races in 11 weeks to kick off the season, teams have been warned against running races on three consecutive weekends. It cannot become the norm in the future.
F1 first attempted in 2018 to hold triple races in France, Austria and Great Britain on consecutive weekends, but it was agreed that the teams would not do so again due to the pressure it placed on individuals.
By forming triceps with Singapore, Sochi and Suzuka, F1 created an additional one-week gap in the calendar for the event in Saudi Arabia to join the schedule, with a street race staged in Jeddah in the late season.
F1 will see F1 become the latest major international series to stage an event in Saudi Arabia following similar moves in Formula E – which hosted the last two seasons openings in Ad Diriyah – as well as sports like boxing and soccer.
The race is set to mark the first move to Saudi Arabia for Formula 1, amid plans to build a new circuit in Qiddiya on the outskirts of Riyadh in the future.
The Brazilian Grand Prix is set to move to Rio de Janeiro for 2021, although the race is currently under pressure Environmental groups on department building plans.
Despite concerns about the viability of some events due to the uncertain nature of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, F1 has not formally notified teams of any potential backup races as it hopes to stick to its planned schedule.
The pre-season test has also been set up for a drastic change, with at least one test drive moving from Barcelona to Bahrain in March ahead of the season opening in Australia.
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