Portimao is set to fill the ‘TBC’ entry on the F1 2021 calendar. It had been given the go-ahead to fill the third spot on the calendar after initial worries regarding the Covid-19 situation. While this has yet to be 100% confirmed, sources close to the negotiations are saying that F1 has committed to the decision.
Written By Ian Bruce, Edited By Andrea Teo
This means that Bahrain is now confirmed as the first race of the year on 28 March, with Imola holding the Emilia Romagna GP on 18 April. Portimao is set to follow on 2nd May, with the Spanish GP a week later.
The short window between Portimao and and the Spanish GP will prove fortunate for most of the teams. Portugal is currently on the UK’s ‘red list’, meaning that any person (including elite sports athletes) have to quarantine upon return to the country. As six out of 10 teams on the grid are based in the UK, this would prove a big headache for the personnel working on the grid. However, with the next race in Spain only a week after the Portuguese GP, most personnel wouldn’t be returning to the UK anyway.
Upon return from Spain, staff will have to isolate for 10 days when returning to the UK. With the next race, the Monaco GP, set two weeks after, this would be more of a possibility. It would be safe to assume that most teams might keep most personnel on the continent though, and only send back who is necessary.
There is still a chance that all this might not go ahead, however slight. If so, F1 would revert to the idea of holding two races in Bahrain once again. This would be a last minute plan as the hope is that there will be no issue in racing at Portimao.
The race is set to be confirmed at a meeting of the F1 Commission on Thursday, where they will discuss this, the potential of running Saturday Sprint races during the 2021 season and whether the proposed engine freeze will come into effect for 2022.
The discussion regarding sprint races is very interesting to fans as bosses are toying with the idea of running these events at 3 races this year: Canada, Italy and Brazil. This idea is in place of the proposed idea of running reverse grid races.
What they are planning instead is to run Qualifying on Fridays in place of FP2, and then run the sprint race itself on Saturday. The race itself would be run to about a third of the length of a normal GP, with a reduced number of points up for grabs for the first eight finishers. The race would then determine the grid order for the main race on Sunday.
F1 bosses hope the new format will bring in bigger audiences, both on the track and on TV, and bring much needed excitement that they feel the sport is lacking. Should the proposal be voted through by a majority vote, it is likely that they will try the idea out more widely during the 2022 season.
The only downfall I see to this idea is that, with the new budget cap, any extra incidents that may occur during these extra races may cost teams their run at the title. This might affect how hard the teams can push during these sprint races, as they might want to conserve their engines for the Sunday races where more points are on offer.
It is an interesting idea that may bring the excitement back to the sport, or it could just be another flash in the pan idea that will fall by the wayside. Does anyone remember knock-out qualifying fondly? I think not…