Formula 1 has announced a revised calendar for the 2021 season with Bahrain now hosting the first race of the year after postponing the Australian Grand Prix.
A 23-race calendar had been planned as F1 aimed to return to a closer-than-normal schedule in 2021 following the disruption to the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But with the ongoing pandemic, travel restrictions have resulted in Australia not being able to host the season opener on March 21 and China seeking a later date.
The updated calendar revealed on Tuesday morning sees the opening round now take place in Bahrain on March 28, with Imola confirmed as the second race of the season on April 18.
Imola staged its first F1 grand prix in 14 years when it was added to the truncated European-Based 2020 calendar.
There remains a TBC for the round three on May 2, but this is expected to be filled by Portimao as a replacement for the abandoned Vietnam Grand Prix.
Australia has been handed a late-season slot on November 21, forcing a number of races to have their initial dates changed in the second half of the season.
The Brazilian Grand Prix will move forward one week to November 7, forming a third triple-header on the calendar with rounds in the United States and Mexico.
Saudi Arabia’s inaugural race has been scheduled one week later on December 5, as the season finale in Abu Dhabi now takes place on December 12.
F1 stated it is working with the promoter of China to try and reschedule the Shanghai race if possible, but it likely to only go ahead if another race is cancelled.
A statement issued by F1 read: “Due to the ongoing travel restrictions in place the 2021 Chinese Grand Prix will not take place on its planned date.
“Discussions with the promoter and authorities in China are ongoing with the potential to reschedule the race later in the season if possible.
“With the scheduled date not being feasible for China, Imola will return to the Formula 1 calendar on the revised date of 18 April.
“The TBC race in the calendar will be announced in due course and will take place on the new date of 2 May. All revisions are subject to World Motor Sport Council approval.
“As a result of these changes the number of races for 2021 will remain at 23 which is the largest ever Formula 1 calendar and we look forward to delivering this season through close collaboration with all our promoters.
“The season will start a week later than planned and end a week later with our season finale in Abu Dhabi. As stated previously, we expect fans to return to the grandstands and our exclusive Paddock Club for the 2021 season.
“We will continue to work closely with our promoters and partners to monitor the ongoing COVID-19 situation and look forward to the start of the season in March.”