Formula 1 set for Qatar race in revised calendar

Formula 1 set for Qatar race in revised calendar

MOTO GP in Qatar

Formula 1 has cut its schedule to 22 races this season as a result of complications over the pandemic.

A revised calendar has a vacant slot on 21 November that will be filled by the first Qatar Grand Prix.

Qatar, which will be confirmed when the deal is finalised, will be the last of three consecutive race weekends following events in Mexico and Brazil.

The Turkish Grand Prix has been moved to 10 October to fill the slot vacated by the cancelled Japanese Grand Prix.

F1 planned its longest ever season at 23 races this year. President Stefano Domenicali had been trying to stick to that number of races but has been forced to rethink as a result of complications arising from the pandemic.

The current schedule is also the longest ever, which F1 says is “a major achievement for an international sport against the back drop of an ongoing global pandemic”.

The Japanese Grand Prix was cancelled because of a rise in Covid cases in the country, and that followed the earlier cancellations of the races in Australia, China, Canada and Singapore.

Turkey will be followed by the US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, on its long-planned 24 October date.

That scheduling causes problems because the majority of teams are based in the UK and Turkey is on the British government’s red list of countries that require people returning from them to have 10 days of mandatory quarantine in government-organised hotels.

Teams have told F1 they will not allow their staff to be forced to go through that quarantine for the sake of the calendar.

The hope is that Turkey will be returned to the amber list when the government reviews its Covid travel restrictions next month.

If it remains red, the plan is for teams to move straight from Turkey to the US and see out the quarantine period there.

Mexico and Brazil are also on the UK’s red list, but that problem has been solved by the positioning of the Qatar event.

Domenicali said: “The pandemic continues to present the season with challenges but we have proven we can adapt and we are confident we can deliver a record breaking 22 races this year despite a global pandemic.

“I want to thank the promoters in Brazil, Mexico and Turkey for their patience and flexibility and we will provide the details of the final addition soon.

“This season is proving to be an incredible battle on the track and this is hugely exciting for our fans around the world and we look forward to the intensity continuing in the races ahead.”

The season will conclude as previously planned with the new Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on 5 December and the Abu Dhabi race on 12 December.

F1 is confident it can protect its personnel in places with high Covid rates because of the strict protocols under which the sport has been operating since the 2020 season resumed last summer following the start of the pandemic.

Revised 2021 F1 calendar

29 Aug Belgium (Spa-Francorchamps)

5 Sep Netherlands (Zandvoort)

12 Sep Italy (Monza)

26 Sep Russia (Sochi)

10 Oct Turkey (Istanbul Park)

24 Oct USA (Austin)

7 Nov Mexico (Mexico City)

14 Nov Brazil (Interlagos)

21 TBC (Qatar)

5 Dec Saudi Arabia (Jeddah)

12 Dec Abu Dhabi (Yas Marina)