Even as it became clear that the proposed season opener in Australia is likely to be postponed, sections of the media continued to ponder how such a move would impact the current 23-race schedule, suggesting various alternative slots for Melbourne.
Fact is, from the outset the 23-date calendar ratified last month was always wishful thinking, a means for Chase Carey and his team to assure broadcasters, promoters, sponsors and teams that all was well and that 2021 would be ‘business as usual’.
However, after almost ten months many – but not all – countries around the world are in turmoil, with no real idea of what exactly happens next.
Furthermore, as they ponder the financial and emotional impact of semi and full lockdowns, you can be sure that motorsport is among the last of their considerations.
As suggested previously, now that Stefano Domenicali has taken control of the sport, the best thing the Italian could do is plan a ‘worst case’ strategy, accepting that 2021 will be pretty much like 2020 and adapt the schedule accordingly.
Indeed, as some grudgingly accept that it is not only the season opener in Melbourne that is at risk, Jean Todt admits that he expects further changes to the schedule.
“Unfortunately, it’s not over,” he admitted at last month’s General Assembly of the FIA. “It’s not like the season is ending, so we start from a white piece of paper.
“Lockdown is still going to happen, confinement, the virus is there,” he added.
“There has been progress. We are expecting a vaccine, so it will be good for the population, good for the planet to be able to enjoy that,” he continued. “But I’m sure that over the next days, we will hear quite a lot of potential changes on the different calendars, not only Formula 1, but on other calendars.
“If I had to commit on a back to kind of normal, even if I feel it will be a different life behind the COVID-19 crisis, I think half of next year, in my opinion, will not be as we could have expected to have in a normal season.”
The need to race… and thereby earn, saw some intriguing improvisation last year, with a return to the likes of Imola and Istanbul, debut events at Mugello and Portimao and an alternative layout in Bahrain.
With an eye on the ongoing fluidity of the pandemic, Domenicali, indeed F1 would be best served by biting the bullet and drawing up plans for a similar schedule.