MotoGP will continue into 2021, and scheduling difficulties continue to accompany it. Unlike 2020, however, Dorna and the FIM are prepared for it, however, and so today, we saw a provisional 2021 MotoGP calendar announced. It is a very conventional-looking schedule, with a giant caveat attached underneath: “All dates, events and the attendance of spectators are subject to the evolution of the pandemic and the approval of the corresponding Governments and authorities.”
After two tests, at Sepang in mid February and Qatar in mid March, the 2021 season is scheduled to kick off at Qatar on March 28th. After Qatar, the series heads to the Americas, where MotoGP races in Argentina at Termas de Rio Hondo and at Austin. They then head back to Europe, for the usual round of spring races: Jerez, Le Mans, Mugello, Barcelona, Sachsenring, and Assen. They round it off with a trip to Finland, subject to the Kymiring being homologated on time.
The next race depends on whether the Brno circuit is resurfaced or not. If the track gets a new surface, as the riders demanded in the Safety Commission this year, then there will be a Czech Grand Prix on August 8th. Then MotoGP heads to Austria, and then Silverstone at the end of August.
A few changes follow: Aragon and Misano are swapped, the Spanish round preceding Italy. Then the paddock heads to Motegi for the Japanese Grand Prix, which is back to back with Thailand. After a week off, there follows another double header, Phillip Island preceding Sepang. The season finishes up at Valencia, on November 14th.
Three reserve circuits have been added to the calendar in case a particular race cannot go ahead. Portimao was expected, as it is on the 2020 calendar. The Mandalika Circuit in Indonesia is also no surprise, though that circuit is still a long way from being finished and must first be homologated. But the big surprise is the inclusion of the Igora Drive circuit in Russia, which is some 50 km from St Petersburg, and not far from the Finnish border.
Will this calendar actually happen as scheduled? That seems extremely unlikely. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to sweep across the world, and national and regional governments have a range of restrictions in place. Fortunately, a vaccine appears to be getting closer, but even with a vaccine, it will be six to nine months before it is in widespread enough use, most medical experts suggest.
The purpose of the provisional calendar is to show that MotoGP is serious about racing in 2021. Behind the scenes, negotiations and planning is underway for a whole range of scenarios to race if the pandemic is still disrupting everyday life and international travel. Contracts and negotiations are focusing heavily on the possibility of cancellation and rescheduling, to ensure races can take place whatever happens. Such a scenario would look more like 2020 than 2019, but with a less compressed calendar.
It will be imperative for circuits to start allow fans back again soon. Financial reserves have been raided to allow tracks to survive this year, but another year without large-scale events and large numbers of fans attending could take a heavy, possibly insurmountable toll on some circuits. Some semblance of normality cannot come soon enough for them.
Below is the provisional 2021 calendar
|28 March||Qatar*||Losail International Circuit|
|11 April||Republica Argentina||Termas de Rio Hondo|
|18 April||Americas||Circuit of the Americas|
|02 May||Spain||Circuito de Jerez – Ángel Nieto|
|16 May||France||Le Mans|
|30 May||Italy||Autodromo del Mugello|
|06 June||Catalunya||Barcelona – Catalunya|
|27 June||Netherlands||TT Circuit Assen|
|TBD||To be decided|
|15 August||Austria||Red Bull Ring-Spielberg|
|29 August||Great Britain||Silverstone|
|12 September||Aragón||MotorLand Aragón|
|19 September||San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini||Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli|
|03 October||Japan||Twin Ring Motegi|
|10 October||Thailand||Chang International Circuit|
|24 October||Australia||Philip Island|
|31 October||Malaysia||Sepang International Circuit|
|14 November||Comunitat Valenciana||Comunitat Valenciana-Ricardo Tormo|
* Evening Race
** Subject to Homologation
All dates, events and the attendance of spectators are subject to the evolution of the pandemic and the approval of the corresponding Governments and authorities.
Reserve Grand Prix Venues:
|Portugal||Algarve International Circuit|
|Indonesia**||Mandalika International Street Circuit|
|Russia||Igora Drive Circuit|