FIA president Jean Todt believes the 2021 Formula 1 season won’t be “a normal season” as he expects changes to the calendar due to the ongoing threat of COVID-19.
F1 was faced with a unprecedented situation in 2020 when it was forced to reduce the schedule to 17 races in Europe and the Middle East to work around the COVID-19 pandemic.
The sport’s bosses have targeted a return to a regular number of races, with the World Motor Sport Council approving a 23-race calendar for 2021 at the end of last year.
While it sees a number of flyaway events back on the schedule, travel restrictions to limit the spread of coronavirus has already increased the possibility of a delay to the start of the campaign.
Reports suggest the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on March 21 is poised to be postponed due to the Australia’s strict quarantine protocols for arrivals.
Todt warned the challenges F1 is facing are “not over” as he predicts more changes to come in the coming weeks.
“Unfortunately, it’s not over,” Todt said, as quoted by Motorsport.com. “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.
“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.
“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.”
Following the efforts to put together a truncated schedule in such short notice for 2020, Todt credited the role everyone played in making it possible.
“I feel the 2020 season was a great season and with a lot of creativity,” Todt added.
“Who could have guessed one year ago when we met in Paris that we would have three grands prix in Italy, back-to-back [races] on the same circuit in Austria, in Silverstone, original racing in the Bahrain Grand Prix, in Turkey, so that is really a credit to Formula 1.
“I want to also highlight the role that was played by Chase Carey and his leadership of Formula 1, working with the FIA when you see what has been achieved to limit the people victim of COVID-19 in motor racing.”