The record-breaking 23-race Formula One calendar released for 2021 seemed incredibly ambitious when it was announced in October, and now it appears that those fears are going to be borne out. Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) president Jean Todt has now admitted that the season is probably going to be rearranged. Actually, about half of it. Half of it is probably going to be rearranged.
2020's schedule essentially imploded immediately before the season was supposed to start, and Todt believes we’re about to see the same situation. The 2021 season, set to start in Australia, has already been facing questions—derived, in part, by the difficult biosphere safety concept that has been introduced to protect drivers and Australians from COVID-19.
Now, the Chinese Grand Prix’s promoters are calling for postponement, and other events in the Pacific aren’t looking much better. The Toyota Racing Series that operates in New Zealand has lost immigration exemption status for foreign drivers. Many countries are still battling the coronavirus pandemic and are questioning the viability of a sporting event in its midst. IndyCar and Formula E have already faced schedule rearrangements and postponements.
Todt noted the following about the pandemic:
Unfortunately it is not over—it is not like the season is ending and we start from a (clean) piece of paper, because lockdown is still going to happen, confinement—the virus is there. There has been progress, we are expecting a vaccine, so it will be good for the population and good for the planet to be able to enjoy that, but I am sure that … we will hear quite a lot of potential changes on the different calendars, not only Formula 1 but on other calendars.
So if I had to commit on a back to kind of normal, even if I feel it will be a different life after the COVID-19 crisis, I think half of (2021), in my opinion, will not be as we could have expected to have in a normal season.
Todt frames it as, partially, a positive, because the 2020 season’s late additions added a lot of excitement. I know that I wouldn’t be opposed to another round of the Bahrain “oval” or Mugello.
But it is frustrating to see another year of unpredictability—especially for race fans hoping to attend an event after a long season without one.