Currently reading: Formula 1 2021: Imola returns as Australia, China postponed
Ongoing pandemic forces changes to race calendar, with Portugal set to replace Vietnam
Felix Page Autocar writer
News
3 mins read
12 January 2021

The Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, which had been due to host the 2021 Formula 1 season-opener in March, has been delayed until later in the year, due to the pandemic - while the Chinese GP has been replaced by a race in Imola, Italy.

Australia currently has very low rates of the coronavirus, but with cases increasing elsewhere, officials asked for the race to be pushed back to later in the year. It will now run from 18-21 November and the F1 season will start in Bahrain on 28 March.

There are a number of other shuffles on the calendar, with the Chinese GP losing its spot on 11 April after event officials asked for a postponement. It will be replaced by a race at Italy's Imola circuit - which appeared on the calendar for the first time in 14 years last November - for the second event of the revised season on 18 April.

The 2020 Australian GP was cancelled just hours before practice on the Albert Park street circuit was due to begin, after a McLaren Racing team member tested positive for Covid-19. The race calendar was then put on hold for four months as a downsized, 17-race emergency schedule was compiled

Ongoing international lockdown measures and travel restrictions mean the 2021 calendar is subject to similar revisions. F1 bosses are in discussions with Chinese authorities and promoters "with the potential to reschedule the race later in the season if possible".

F1 still plans to hold a record 23 races this year, although a venue for the third race of the season, on 2 May, has yet to be confirmed. 

Plans for the first Vietnam GP were axed late last year for political reasons, leaving a gap in the schedule that the Portimão circuit in Portugal - which hosted its first F1 race in 2020 - is tipped to fill. 

F1 bosses said they will "continue to work closely with our promoters and partners to monitor the ongoing Covid-19 situation" and expect spectators to return to the trackside at some point during the 2021 season. 

New F1 CEO and ex-Lamborghini boss Stefano Domenicali said: “It has been a busy start to the year at Formula 1 and we are pleased to confirm that the number of races planned for the season remains unchanged. The global pandemic hasn't 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.

"It's 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."

The revised 2021 F1 calendar is as follows:

28 March - Bahrain GP

18 April - Emilia Romagna GP

2 May - TBC

9 May - Spanish GP

23 May - Monaco GP

6 June - Azerbaijan GP

13 June - Canadian GP

27 June - French GP

4 July - Austrian GP

18 July - British GP

1 August - Hungarian GP

29 August - Belgian GP

5 September - Dutch GP

12 September - Italian GP

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26 September - Russian GP

3 October - Singapore GP

10 October - Japanese GP

24 October - United States GP

31 October - Mexico City GP

7 November - São Paulo GP

21 November - Australian GP

5 December - Saudi Arabia GP

12 December - Abu Dhabi GP

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