Amidst the uncertainty over the 2021 schedule, F1 boss, Stefano Domenicali admits that the season could get underway with back-to-back races in Bahrain.
Despite the continued insistence that this season will feature the busiest schedule in the sport’s history, the fact is that the continued uncertainty over the pandemic means that, whatever they might currently say, at some point F1 bosses are going to have to start dropping races – though the contractual obligations mean that organisers cancelling is the preferred option.
With Melbourne postponed until November, the season is due to get underway in Bahrain in late March, but due to the ever-changing travel restrictions the big question is where does the sport go from there… literally.
Though it is currently scheduled to move on to Imola, there is no guarantee that will be possible, consequently, as was the case last year, F1 bosses are considering back-to-back races in Bahrain.
“Everyone was thinking this year would be easier but it is not,” Stefano Domenicali told reporters in a video press conference. “We are fluid and flexible to be ready with another possibility and we have plans B, C, D.
“I am totally transparent,” he added, “the things that are fixed today can be very different tomorrow and that is why we are in contact with all the organisers every day.”
However, Domenicali is confident that Imola will still go ahead on 18 April, though he admits the ‘TBC’ pencilled in for 2 May – to replace Vietnam – remains a mystery.
“As you know, there is a TBC date there and if it was Portugal it would say Portugal and the reason why it is not is because the situation is not closed yet,” he admitted. “We need to be ready to change, it would be wrong to say the opposite.
“We will be able to announce something in the next days and I have personal meetings this weekend to decide.
“One possible plan B could be the double race in Bahrain, that is… an opinion on the table for our discussion.”
Asked about the Chinese round of the championship, he said: “China is very important for all of us, but we have received information from the government that up to summer time, they are not willing to have any international event there.”
When Domenicali says people were thinking that this year would be easier, this particularly applied to F1, and privately the Italian must be cursing Chase Carey’s folly in drawing up a 23-dateschedule.
Last year the pandemic was rightly seen as a crisis and for the sake of the sport everyone mucked in, albeit with caution; be it paying for races, sponsors paying teams etc. However, a year later it is clear that, for now, this is the new normal and consequently those willing to ‘help out’ last year will not be as forthcoming second time around.
As one observer put it: “You will help people in a city which has been hit by an earthquake because it’s an exceptional event. However you can’t help if every city is hit by an earthquake every day.”