Formula One has announced a 23-race calendar for the 2021 season which, if the schedule is completed, will be the longest in its history.
With the season starting in Melbourne and a controversial race planned for Saudi Arabia, the highly anticipated Vietnamese Grand Prix is not in the schedule.
F1’s provisional calendar, which has been submitted to the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) of the International Automobile Federation (FIA) for approval, exceeds the previous maximum of 21 races in a season.
Owners Liberty Media are confident that having successfully managed the Coronavirus impacted 17-race season this year, 2021 will represent a return to normality for the sport, including having fans attending races.
Formula One Chief Executive, Chase Carey explained “we are planning for 2021 events with fans that provide an experience close to normal and expect our agreements to be honoured.
“We have proven that we can safely travel and operate our races and our promoters increasingly recognise the need to move forward and manage the virus.”
The omission of the Vietnam Grand Prix, which was to have debuted this year but which was cancelled as COVID-19 forced changes to the sporting calendar, follows the arrest of the Hanoi People’s Committee Chairman, Nguyen Duc Chung, a key figure in promoting the race.
His arrest, for alleged appropriation of documents containing state secrets, was not related to the race but the Vietnamese Government have subsequently decided to not continue with the project for next year.
The absence of the race is a blow the sport, which has stated their intent to add destination cities as F1 venues and this was intended to be the first new race meeting added to the calendar since buying the sport three years ago.
The season is set to begin in Melbourne on 21st March and includes two sets of triple-header races.
Hosting a race in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia has been condemned by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
The inaugural event will take place on Jeddah’s corniche, which runs along the banks of the Red Sea, providing a coastal backdrop for a full weekend of live motorsport, entertainment and cultural events.
The race is scheduled to be the penultimate meeting of the season on 28th November before the finale at Abu Dhabi on 5th December.
Images: The Formula One Vietnam Grand Prix racetrack in Hanoi in March (top) and F1's provisional 2021 calendar (below).
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