With the new calendar for 2021 being recently announced, I thought I would throw my two pennies in and share my thoughts on the races for next year. Obviously after a year like 2020, the 2021 calendar was always going to be somewhat a return to normality, but does this produce a sigh of relief, or one of frustration?
2021 is going to see a record breaking season, with 23 races taking place throughout the year. Formula 1 looks to be slowly edging their way to that 25 race limit, and I wouldn’t be surprised if, in a few years, they hit it. So what does the length of the season mean for drivers and teams? Mental and physical fatigue will surely play a part. But perhaps not such a negative one. Throwing in more challenges for drivers and teams will add a new element to the season. Although, I am not so sure it’s needed. The length of a season has never been a complaint of mine, and I’d rather they concentrated on the quality of the races, not the quantity.
For me personally, I am a bit disappointed with the track choices. Although there are a few changes, part of me thought there would be a real shake up after seeing some great races at places like Portimao, Nurburgring and Istanbul Park this weekend. To see some really exciting tracks not getting a spot for next season and the likes of Sochi and Paul Ricard returning, was a bit of a let down.
However, 2021 won’t be without some new additions, the much anticipated Zandvoort will finally make its return to Formula 1 after being cancelled due to Covid this season. Without a doubt, Max Verstappen’s growing popularity and success has had a huge impact on the Netherlands earning its place on the calendar. And I for one cannot wait to see the Orange army swarming the circuit whilst the cars navigate their way around those incredible banked corners.
Another addition is that of Saudi Arabia. This race will take place on the streets of Jeddah at night, very alike Singapore. It will certainly be a spectacle, and I have always enjoyed a good street circuit. But eyebrows were certainly raised when Formula 1 announced Saudi Arabia’s inclusion. It is no secret that they are politically very questionable with Amnesty International describing their human rights record as ‘heinous’. I am certainly uncomfortable with the thought, and find it strange that for 2020 F1 adopt the mantra of ‘We race as one’, and for 2021 they decide to visit a country which describes homosexuality and feminism as “extreme ideas”.
Hanoi has also been taken off the calendar for 2021. Like Zandvoort it was due to make its debut this year, only for it to be cancelled due to Coronavirus. And following the arrest of one of the key officials responsible for the race on corruption charges, F1 decided to pull the race for next year as well. Having raced the circuit on ‘F1 2020’ I wasn’t a huge fan of the circuit itself. It was full of long ridiculous straights and was relatively unexciting apart from sector 3. I am not too sad to see it go, but I would certainly welcome more races being introduced from that part of the world.
With Hanoi being dropped there is a mysterious slot on the 25th April between China and Barcelona. This is teetering on the edge of the European season. So, could we see a circuit such as Turkey or Portugal taking that spot? Or are we going to get a completely different track?
I have to say, one thing I have loved about the current season are all the new tracks. Formula 1 should really consider shaking up the calendar on a more regular basis. I think they should keep the classics in there. Monaco, Silverstone, Sao Paolo and so on, should be a regular feature; but throw in a rogue circuit, a track that teams don’t have the years of data on, just to spice things up a bit more. Overall I am not too disappointed with the calendar. I have my criticisms, but I am sure that there’s politics and contracts beyond my understanding that have determined it.
What do you think? Has the 2021 calendar matched your expectations? Would you like to see something a bit different?
Featured image from F1 Facebook page