2021 Formula 1 season: Calendar, rules changes, drivers and more
Following a disjointed 2020, Formula 1 is aiming big with a planned 23-round season in 2021. Discover the 2021 F1 calendar, the tweaks to the technical regulations and the latest driver changes.
2021 Formula 1 Calendar
In the face of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, Formula 1 has had to completely rejig its 2020 calendar and confine its season to Europe and the Middle East only.
The Monaco Grand Prix wasn't run for the first time since 1954, while Portimao and Mugello hosted F1 races for the first time and popular tracks like the Nurburgring, Imola and Istanbul Park all made a surprise return.
For 2021 Formula 1 has put together a record-breaking 23-race calendar, returning to conventional dates while adding new races in the Netherlands and Saudi Arabia.
The Vietnamese Grand Prix in Hanoi, which was set to debut in 2020 before the coronavirus struck, will not be held in 2021 either. Its slot will be taken over by the Portuguese Grand Prix.
The Australian Grand Prix will move from its season opening slot to the end of the season, making Bahrain the 2021 season opener.
The Chinese Grand Prix has also requested a new date, its slot as the second race of the season taken up by Imola.
|March 28||Bahrain Grand Prix||Sakhir|
||Emilia Romagna Grand Prix||Imola|
|May 2||Portuguese Grand Prix||Portimao|
|May 9||Spanish Grand Prix||Barcelona|
|May 23||Monaco Grand Prix||Monaco|
|June 6||Azerbaijan Grand Prix||Baku|
|June 13||Canadian Grand Prix||Montreal|
|June 27||French Grand Prix||Le Castellet|
|July 4||Austrian Grand Prix||Spielberg|
|July 18||British Grand Prix||Silverstone|
|August 1||Hungarian Grand Prix||Budapest|
|August 29||Belgian Grand Prix||Spa-Francorchamps|
||Dutch Grand Prix||Zandvoort|
|September 12||Italian Grand Prix||Monza|
|September 26||Russian Grand Prix||Sochi|
||Singapore Grand Prix||Singapore|
|October 10||Japanese Grand Prix||Suzuka|
|October 24||United States Grand Prix||Austin|
|October 31||Mexican Grand Prix||Mexico|
|November 14||Sao Paulo Grand Prix||Sao Paulo|
|November 21||Australian Grand Prix||Melbourne|
|December 5||Saudi Arabian Grand Prix||Jeddah|
|December 12||Abu Dhabi Grand Prix||Abu Dhabi|
2021 Formula 1 Rules Changes
The 2021 F1 season was set to introduce all-new technical regulations aimed at improving the show, but due to COVID-19 the new cars, which will benefit from the ground-effect to reduce their dependence on clear air, will be pushed back to 2022.
Delaying the new regulations, and freezing development work on the 2022 cars until January 2021, was pushed through in a bid to slash costs, with F1 facing a massive reduction in income from its largely spectator-less 2020 season.
That does not mean that the technical regs will remain unchanged for 2021. In order to help Pirelli's tyres cope with the ever faster cars, tweaks have been made to the cars to reduce downforce in 2021, particularly targeting the floor.
Pirelli was supposed to keep its 2019-spec compounds for a third season in a row, although it recently had teams test prototype tyres for next year. Those prototypes, which feature a more robust construction, were heavily criticised by the drivers, so it remains to be seen which specification will ultimately be used.
In a further bid to reduce costs ahead of the incoming budget cap, teams will also be forced to stick to their current chassis for 2021, although they are allowed to spend so-called development tokens to rework certain areas of their cars, including the aerodynamics. Engine manufacturers are also allowed to introduce a new power unit specification before the start of the 2021 season.
2021 Formula 1 Driver List
Formula 1 has seen a flurry of silly season activity this year. Due to the pandemic and the delayed season start, most teams seem to have conducted their business earlier in the season than normal. Ferrari stole the early headlines by opting not to renew Sebastian Vettel's contract before the delayed season even began, moving to replace the four-time world champion with McLaren's Carlos Sainz. That in turn caused further dominoes to fall. McLaren snapped up Daniel Ricciardo from Renault, who in turn brought back Fernando Alonso out of the Spaniard's F1 retirement.
Vettel then found a home at Racing Point, which will race as Aston Martin in 2021, displacing F1's latest race winner Sergio Perez. Perez became the focal point of the silly season alongside Alexander Albon, who is underperforming at Red Bull Racing and under threat of being replaced by either Perez or Nico Hulkenberg.
If Albon does get replaced, the chances of him remaining in F1 appear to be slim, with AlphaTauri all but certain to promote F2 rookie star Yuki Tsunoda.
Further down the grid Haas made waves by contracting 2020 Formula 2 champion Mick Schumacher and well-backed front-runner Nikita Mazepin.
Missing on the list of confirmed drivers is seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, who hasn't signed a fresh Mercedes deal yet, but is widely expected to do so in the coming weeks.
2021 F1 line-up
|Team||Engine||Confirmed drivers||Possible drivers|
|Red Bull Racing||Honda||
When does 2021 F1 Pre-Season testing start?
F1's traditional pre-season testing is set for sweeping changes, with testing further reduced from six days in 2020 to just three days in 2021. The three-days test is generally held late February, but the exact date and location has not yet been decided. In recent years the test has been held in Barcelona, but the 2021 winter test is likely to be moved to Bahrain.
When are the 2021 F1 cars revealed?
Traditionally F1's launch season precedes winter testing, with teams either deciding to do a live or online launch before heading to the test, or opting to present their new challenger in the pitlane on the morning of the first test day.
Team launches have become more and more low-key in recent years, although the likes of Ferrari and AlphaTauri decided to hold a major in-person launch event last winter.
There are no confirmed launch dates for 2021 right now, but expect teams to present their new creations in the two-week run-up to the three-day test.
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