Formula 1 will not return to Istanbul Park after all. The Turkish Grand Prix, which was scheduled for the weekend of June 11-13 to replace what was originally supposed to be the Canadian Grand Prix, has now been canceled too due to U.K. travel restrictions.
Instead, F1 will now go to Paul Ricard in France a week earlier than it had been planning, from June 18-20. That opens up a slot on the weekend of June 25-27 for the first of what will now be two back-to-back races at Austria’s Red Bull Ring. The second will take place on July 2-4, as already planned.
The culmination of all this is a triple-header — three races in a row, to fill out the 23-race calendar F1 promised before the start of the season. It was the most logical solution after the U.K. Government placed Turkey on its “red list” of countries requiring quarantine for 10 days upon return.
While it’s somewhat disappointing to lose Istanbul Park, which offered a surprisingly exciting race last season when F1 was scrambling for venues in the early days of the pandemic, a second race at the Red Bull Ring is hardly a downgrade.
Let’s be honest — most of what made the Turkish race last year so fun to watch had to do with the slippery track surface, which wouldn’t have been a factor this time around. And the Styrian hills have a knack for producing some fantastic racing, quickly becoming a favorite on the calendar for many fans.
Perhaps the most disappointing loss in this latest schedule change will be felt by, of all people, Romain Grosjean. Grosjean was due to run demonstration laps in the 2019 championship-winning Mercedes in front of his home crowd in France, in addition to running a full-day test for the team. The offer was first extended to him by Merc F1 boss Toto Wolff after Grosjean’s harrowing accident during last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
The 35-year-old driver, now competing in IndyCar, will still get the dream opportunity of testing the car, but the demo laps won’t happen at the French Grand Prix since that race has changed dates. The new date for Paul Ricard conflicts with IndyCar’s Road America event.