In 2020, the F1 calendar was turned upside down by the coronavirus. Many races were cancelled and the royal class of motorsport had to go to other locations. Imola was one of them, so besides Mugello and Monza there were no less than three Italian Grands Prix on the calendar.
The 2020 schedule was heavily disrupted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. F1 was forced to delay the start of its season, races were cancelled, rescheduled or replaced, and mostly held without spectators.
But Carey expects the sport will “provide an experience close to normal” for fans in 2021.
Formula One is planning to expand to 24 races in the near future, with some rotation of circuits, chief executive Chase Carey said on Thursday.
The sport has pencilled in a record 23 for next year, dependent on developments in the COVID-19 pandemic which forced organisers to rewrite this season’s schedule and limit races to Europe and the Middle East.
Carey, who is handing over to former Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali in January while remaining as non-executive chairman of the Liberty Media-owned sport, was speaking to investors.
“We expect to move to a 24-race calendar in the next few years, and will probably rotate a few races so we will be able to accommodate a few new partners,” said the American.
“But they will be limited as long-term partnerships continue to be our priority.”
Formula One had two new races this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, at Portugal’s Algarve circuit and Mugello in Italy, while also bringing back the Nuerburgring in Germany, Italy’s Imola and Turkey’s Istanbul Park for the first time in years.
Those races were stand-ins for others that had to be cancelled on what ended up as a 17-round calendar.
Saudi Arabia will be the new round on the calendar next season with a night race in Jeddah.
Formula One has never had more than 21 rounds in a season and extending the calendar has caused concern about the burden placed on team staff.
Carey said Formula One’s viewership was up slightly on last year despite the dominance of Mercedes for a seventh year in succession and a lacklustre showing by Ferrari.
THE ABSOLUTE LIMIT
AlphaTauri boss Franz Tost says Formula 1’s planned 23-race 2021 calendar is the “absolute limit” while Alfa Romeo counterpart Frederic Vasseur has concerns over the second triple header.
Formula 1 has provisionally scheduled 23 events to take place next year – the busiest season in history – with Saudi Arabia joining for the first time.
The second half of the campaign has been back-loaded with events ostensibly in order to give officials as much clarity as possible over the Covid-19 situation.
It means Formula 1 will return from its summer break with a triple-header in Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy, with another trio of events in Russia, Singapore and Japan also scheduled for the autumn.
“I went through, with our Team Manager, on the calendar and we analysed everything,” said Tost.
“It’s possible but it’s on the limit because we must not forget that people are out sometimes for three weeks and that’s really a long period.
“I think what’s currently in the calendar is the absolute limit and should not be extended.”
Vasseur pointed to the second triple header as a cause for concern both in terms of personnel and equipment.
“I think the main issue is that if you want to put 23 races in eight months that you have no other option,” he said.
“I’m a bit more concerned about the second one with Sochi, Singapore and Japan also because it’s close to the end of the season.
“It’s a flyaway and for the mechanics, for the team and also for the stock of spare parts it won’t be an easy one but I think that we have no other option if we want to do 23 races per year.”
F1 : PLANNING 24-RACE CALENDAR F1 : PLANNING 24-RACE CALENDAR
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FORMULA 1 BACK AT ISTANBUL PARK IN TURKEY
THE NEXT RACE 2021
|Bahrain ||26 Mar|
|14:30 - 15:30||Free practice 1|
|18:00 - 19:00||Free practice 2|
|15:00 - 16:00||Free practice 3|
|18:00 - 19:00||Qualifying|
|18:00 - 20:00||Race|
|Bahrain||57 laps||308.238 km|