Column | F1 react quickly, but is Imola the best addition to the F1 2021 calendar?

12-01-2021 10:15
Column | F1 react quickly, but is Imola the best addition to the F1 2021 calendar?

The 2021 Formula 1 schedule has been altered. F1 announced the update on Tuesday morning by confirming the Australian Grand Prix will be pushed back to November due to the coronavirus pandemic that continues to grip the world. The Chinese Grand Prix drops off the list entirely but is only postponed. The season will now start in Bahrain, before an early visit to Europe three weeks later in the form of Imola

Early thoughts to the changes

Credit where credit is due. Formula 1 have acted pretty quickly here. Rumblings about the postponement of the Australian Grand Prix only started to gain momentum eight days ago. Given Australia's rigid response to previous outbreaks of COVID-19 in the county, it was pretty obvious they wouldn't allow the F1 circus to travel in after a small rise in cases.

It also reflects the fluidity Liberty Media have given the calendar. Let's be honest, it was obvious that the schedule of 23 Grands Prix was going to need adjusting when it was first announced in November. And this probably isn't going to be the final change to the schedule either, even looking outside of the "TBC" date. 

Another positive: as it stands, we still have 23 races on the list. Given the way the world is at the minute, crisscrossing the globe 23 times will be a phenomenal achievement. Perhaps it's a little optimistic, only time will tell but to even get 17 races in 2020 was rightly hailed as a major success. F1 and Liberty Media are working hard to ensure fans of Motorsport have something to look forward to in what could be another gruelling 12 months. 

But is Imola the right option? 

Not many circuits have more F1 history attached to them than Imola does. It's a classic circuit for many reasons. So far, the Italian track has hosted 28 World Championship Grands Prix, the most recent being the 2020 version. 

But even with the cars of the mid-2000s, the track was struggling to produce wheel-to-wheel racing action. Last season proved it's even more of a struggle with the width of the current cars on the relatively narrow track. It's hard to overtake around most places in F1 these days, but particularly so in Imola.

There's also a three-week gap from the first race in Bahrain, to the event in Imola. Would it not have made sense to use the outer loop in Bahrain as the second round of the Championship? Ticks the travel boxes, reduce the wait time. 

Maybe Liberty Media have something further down the pipeline. If two races were to be held in Bahrain, that would mean four of the last five races take place in the country, as well as (potentially) pre-season testing. And also, if a race drops out later in the schedule, Bahrain can host a night race virtually any time of the year so it could be something they're holding back. 

Imola isn't the best option if you want to see some racing action, but maybe it's the only creditable option? At least we've still got the correct amount of races planned. We shouldn't be too displeased. 

Flashbang finish

If a 23 race schedule wasn't tough enough on the personnel involved in Formula 1, then they've opted to end the season with three triple headers. And working a week closer towards Christmas. 

If things stay as they are, and we actually have a Championship battle on our hands (let's face it, both of those points are extremely unlikely), then those three triple headers could be a thing of beauty. Quickfire action that could produce a rollercoaster ride towards the 2021 World Championship title. Maybe we're getting too carried away, but the point is: the season calendar has strong prospects.

Learning lessons

If Formula 1 and Liberty Media took one thing away from the 2020 and 2021 schedules, then I hope it's the variety. The two calendar shake-ups have given F1 a breath of fresh air. Rather than going through the motions with less than a couple of changes year-to-year, let's shuffle it up more often. In the short-term, contracts are going to dictate things, but how about giving circuits a contract which says: "you'll host three Grands Prix over the next five years."

Particularly in Europe where the order of races is less dependant on time zones and travel.  

Circuits such as Silverstone, Spa, Monza, Monaco and Suzuka can be given core contracts which put them on the list every year. But adding in a mix to the order, and more circuits will keep the sport evolving and fans watching. 

Check out the Story of the CRAZIEST F1 Season in History HERE!

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