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Opinion

23 Formula One races is too much, but is a necessary evil

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Roar Guru
11th November, 2020
6

A record 23-races comprise the 2021 Formula One world championship calendar and while the concept of more racing sounds brilliant – in this instance, the schedule seems more bloated.

Season 2021 will commence at the traditional curtain-raising Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 21, which this year was the scene of COVID-19’s first impact on Formula One. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will close out the bumper schedule on December 5.

The Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO in Andrew Westacott also indicated that the event is working closely with health authorities and the Victorian Government to ensure a fan presence at Albert Park.

“Our massive parkland venue with 10.6km of track frontage provides us with the perfect opportunity to create a COVID-safe venue,” said Westacott in a statement issued by the AGPC.

Formula One is also confident now that with its tried and tested COVID-safe protocols, that it can travel anywhere in the world. Which for the new season it makes sense that we’ve got a record number of events.

With the massive financial losses for all key stakeholders around Formula One in 2020 due to the global pandemic, having more races to generate higher revenues from the host fees seems a logical solution – but also a necessary evil.

It is the stress of the quantity of races on the teams and key paddock personnel, which has many at loggerheads over a 23-race season. Greatly concerning is the human cost among the massive schedule, with the challenge of soldiering on or rotating staff being presented to the teams.

Six races in seven weeks, commencing at in Belgium and then wrapping up in Japan is the major hurdle to negotiate – while there will be five pairs of back-to-back events too. Yes, in 2020 Formula One successfully completed triple headers, though it was in response to cramming in minimum required races to contractually call a world championship.

As well as Formula One’s first foray into Saudi Arabia for a night race on the streets of Jeddah, which has also attracted criticism pertaining to the country’s human rights issues and the sport’s adopted stance against racism and promoting inclusivity.

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Vietnam was supposed to debut this year with a street race in Hanoi, though was cancelled as part of the revised 2020 calendar. For 2021, the Vietnam Grand Prix has also been canned due to ongoing political issues.

Its slot on April 25 remains to be fully scrapped though, with Formula One investigating the possibility of Portugal or Turkey filling the gap.

Lewis Hamilton on track

(Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Brazil and Spain also have asterisks against their names, pending confirmation of their contracts. The former was supposed to see the introduction of a new circuit in Rio De Janeiro, though time constraints with the construction of the new track may see the race end up back at Interlagos in São Paulo.

So, while we’ve been spoilt in 2020 with the addition of many new exciting tracks, Formula One was always going to revert to what was set in stone prior to the global pandemic. If anything, while the championship itself hasn’t been a tantalising affair – there should appreciation that some of those circuits may not be seen again.

In an ideal world, less races and more fan favourite venues would be the makeup of the Formula One calendar. Though financial recovery very much on the agenda for any business coming out of 2020 – this necessary evil must be embraced.

March 21 – Australia
March 28 – Bahrain
April 1 – China
April 25 – TBA*
May 9 – Spain*
May 23 – Monaco
June 6 – Azerbaijan
June 13 – Canada
June 27 – France
July 4 – Austria
July 18 – Great Britain
August 1 – Hungary
August 29 – Belgium
September 5 – Netherlands
September 12 – Italy
September 26 – Russia
October 3 – Singapore
October 10 – Japan
October 24 – United States
October 31 – Mexico
November 14 – Brazil*
November 28 – Saudi Arabia
December 5 – Abu Dhabi