Formula 1 2021: Portuguese GP returns to calendar to follow Imola
Ongoing pandemic forces changes to race calendar, with Portimão circuit filling final gap
Formula 1 bosses have filled the final remaining gap in the 2021 season schedule with a return to Portugal's Portimão circuit on 2 May.
The Portuguese Grand Prix will follow two weeks after the Emilia Romagna GP at Imola, also returning to the calendar for a second time in 2021 after featuring in F1's heavily revised 2020 season. Imola is standing in for the Chinese GP.
The Australian GP, which had been due to host the 2021 season-opener in March, has been delayed until later in the year, due to the pandemic. At the time of postponement, Australia had very low rates of Covid-19, 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 race season will start in Bahrain on 28 March.
The 2020 Australian GP was cancelled just hours before practice in Melbourne was due to begin, after a McLaren 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.
Its 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: ““We're thrilled to announce that Formula 1 will be racing again in Portimão after the huge success of the race last year. We want to thank the promoter and the Portuguese government for their hard work and dedication in getting us to this point.
"We're confident and excited about our 2021 season, having shown last year that we could deliver 17 races safely and bring our millions of fans thrilling racing at a difficult time. We hope to welcome fans to Portimão again this season in a safe way and are working with the promoter on the details of that plan.”
*The revised 2021 F1 calendar is as follows:*
28 March - Bahrain GP
18 April - Emilia Romagna GP
2 May - Portuguese GP
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
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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