Because of the Covid pandemic the 2020 Formula One season had a revised calendar and many of the normal races were not there. We went to some tracks from the normal calendar with little to no fans while also going to the ones we had not visited for a very long time like Imola and Portimão. We also went to tracks that had never hosted Formula One races before like Mugello, which resulted in many fans labelling it as one of the best Formula One seasons in a long time.
Since then, the FIA has released a 23-race calendar for the 2021 FIA Formula One season. With the regular season-opener in Australia postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the re-introduction of Portimão and Istanbul, and a new track at Jeddah hosting the first Formula One race in Saudi Arabia, let’s take a look at the 23-race calendar for this year’s Formula One World Championship.
#1 Bahrain Grand Prix
Since hosting its first Grand Prix in 2004, the Bahrain International Circuit will be hosting the Formula One season-opener for the first time since 2010. The 5.4 km-long track is a technical circuit with long straights for parts of the lap. Teams with good top-end speed fare well in this circuit.
With a low-medium tyre degradation history, Pirelli will be allocating the C2, C3, and C4 compounds for this race.
#2 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix
Imola made a surprise comeback to Formula One last season and has retained its place in this year’s calendar. After hosting 27 Grand Prix from 1981 to 2006, the famous “San Marino Grand Prix” was taken off the racing calendar for good. With iconic corners like Acque Minerali and Piratella, drivers get to feel the adrenaline rush in this fast anti-clockwise circuit. With not many races run before bringing Formula One back, the track itself lacks grip and can be tricky for drivers to negotiate. Like Bahrain, the same C2, C3, and C4 compounds are allocated for this track.
#3 Portuguese Grand Prix
(30 Apr – 2 May)
Before joining the 2020 F1 calendar, the Algarve International Circuit was used for F1 pre-season testing in the winter of 2008/09. With a new tarmac and elevation changes throughout the 4.6 km-long track, the Algarve circuit provides a stern test for drivers and engineers to master their car setups. Due to its abrasive surface and the high loading that goes through the tyres, Pirelli has allocated the hardest set of tyre compounds for this track, i.e., C1, C2, and C3 tyre compounds.
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#4 Spanish Grand Prix
The traditional curtain-raiser for any Formula One season. The Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya, has been the winter testing venue for Formula One teams for many years. This 4.67 km-long track tests a Formula One car in all aspects, starting from testing the power unit of a car with its 1.1 km-long straight, to the intense technical parts of Sector 2 that test the mechanical grip of a Formula One car. The circuit in Barcelona is notoriously known for its high tyre degradation and difficulty for overtaking. Thus, making the right tyre choices and having a good Saturday are the two key ingredients to having a great Sunday. The tyre allocation for this track is C1, C2, and C3 tyre compounds.
#5 Monaco Grand Prix
The crown jewel of Formula One, winning the Monaco Grand Prix is every driver’s dream. After being part of the Formula One calendar since 1955, 2020 saw the first instance where F1 cars didn’t take to the narrow lanes of Monte Carlo. Coming back after a one-year break, the tight and twisty 3.3 km-long circuit will again be the centre of attention of Formula One fans. With a short run-up to Sainte Devote and the uphill run through Rivage to Turn 5, overtaking on the tight streets of Monaco is hard. This makes the qualifying session an utmost priority, with the only possibilities of an overtake arising in the Nouvelle Chicane and the iconic La Rascassee. As always with low degradation levels in Monaco, the C3, C4, and C5 tyres will be in use for the race weekend.
#6 Azerbaijan Grand Prix
The 6.003 km-long street circuit in Baku is the third-longest circuit on the Formula One calendar. The inaugural race at the circuit was held in 2016 staged as the European Grand Prix. In 2017, the Baku City Circuit Operation Company agreed on a deal with the FIA and hosted the first Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Over the years, many drivers praised the circuit for the challenges offered by its long straights, slow technical sections and no margin for error due to the proximity of the walls. Azerbaijan has been an instant hit with the fans due to its chaotic races and unpredictability of the outcome. The surface itself has way less tyre degradation than the previous tracks on the calendar. Pirelli has announced that the softest set of compounds will be allocated for this weekend, i.e., C3, C4, and C5 tyre compounds.
#7 Turkish Grand Prix
After being part of the Formula One calendar from 2006-11, the FIA decided to scrap the Turkish Grand Prix for its future calendars. But when several of the originally scheduled races were cancelled due to the Covid-19 outbreak the Turkish GP was added to the revised calendar in August 2020. The race weekend was held in November where Lance Stroll of BWT Racing Point F1 Team took his first-ever pole position. But it was Lewis Hamilton who took the win after starting from sixth. This year, too, the circuit in Istanbul Park was not part of the original schedule but was later brought in as a replacement for the Canadian Grand Prix due to Covid-related entry restrictions in Canada. The track surface itself is abrasive and due to some long high-speed corners, the tyres overheat and wear out quickly in Turkey. For the race weekend, the C1, C2, and C3 tyres will be allocated to the teams.
#8 French Grand Prix
The Circuit Paul Ricard returned to the Formula One calendar in 2018. The 5.8 km-long track is very flat as it was built on a plateau. The track is characterised by its long Mistral straight (1.8 km) and elongated track design. Last year, the French Grand Prix was cancelled due to the Coronavirus outbreak but made its return this year on the F1 calendar. Known for its even distribution of high-, medium-, and low-speed corners. The F1 drivers love the 300 km/hr right-hander at Signes and the subsequent 5G ride through the Beausset bend. With the lack of proper overtaking circuits, the inclusion of Circuit Paul Ricard shows that the governing bodies are keen to keep hold of this overtaking gem. As for the race weekend, the C2, C3, and C4 tyres will be allocated.
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#9 Austrian Grand Prix
The Red Bull Ring in Österreichring became the first European circuit to host the opening round of a Formula One season since the Monaco Grand Prix held in the 1966 Formula One season. Though only 4.3 km long, the Red Bull Ring packs a lot in a short lap. While the first half of the track rewards power as the cars blast along three straights separated by right-handers, a downhill drive through the second sector brings mechanical grip into play as the drivers negotiate a series of quick corners, including two fast right-handers that rounds off the lap. Due to its long straights, the Red Bull Ring is a slipstream paradise for the F1 drivers. With cooler ambient temperatures and low-medium tyre degradation, the C2, C3, and C4 tyres are allocated for this season’s Austrian GP.
#10 British Grand Prix
As the first track to host the inaugural Formula 1 World Championship in 1950, the Silverstone circuit holds a special place in Formula 1 folklore. Last year, Silverstone hosted two consecutive races; the latter of which was referred to as the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix to commemorate the 70 years since the inception of the Formula 1 World Championship in 1950. The 5.89 km-long track highlighted many issues last season that resulted in much of the regulation changes heading into the 2021 season. The cars were too fast for the tyres as four drivers faced tyre blowouts in the dying stages of the race. Despite numerous layouts changes over the years, Silverstone has always maintained its primary characteristic of being one of the fastest tracks on the F1 calendar. While iconic corners like Maggotts, Becketts, and Abbey provide some of the biggest challenges to the F1 drivers. For the race weekend, the hardest set of compounds; C1, C2, and C3 will be allocated.
#11 Hungaroring Grand Prix
(30 Jul – 1 Aug)
The 4.3 kilometer-long track at Hungaroring hosted its first Formula One Grand Prix in 1986 when Nelson Piquet took the win, famously slithering his Williams round the outside of Ayrton Senna’s Lotus. Due to its lack of straights, the Hungaroring circuit is compared by many to a karting track. With a series of several corners to string together and few straights, if any in between, teams opt to run with a high downforce coupled with a chassis that complements the short straights on offer. With medium-high tyre degradation levels, teams in 2020 opted for two to three stops in the race. With this in mind, Pirelli has decided to allocate the C2, C3, and C4 tyre compounds for this race.
#12 Belgian Grand Prix
The Spa-Francorchamps over the years has produced some of the most iconic races in Formula One 1 history. From the carnage of the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix to the lows of the 2019 Belgian Grand Prix, Spa-Francorchamps has delivered at all times. The 7 km-long track is the longest track on the Formula 1 calendar. With a mixture of long straights and challenging fast-speed corners, most of the F1 drivers love this track as it enables them to push the cars to their limits. This track arguably has one of the most famous sequences of corners in the world, the Eau Rouge, the fastest section of the track where drivers flick left, right and then up the hill through Raidillon. While the size of the track and the typical nature of Belgian weather means it could be dry in one part of the circuit while raining in the other, the track itself is not abrasive, though the series of high-speed corners puts a lot of lateral load through these tyres. For this Pirelli will be allocating the C2, C3, and C4 for this Grand Prix.
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#13 Dutch Grand Prix
Like the British Grand Prix in Silverstone, Zandvoort was first opened post-war in 1948. Formula One arrived on the Dutch dunes in 1952 where Alberto Ascari completed a clean sweep of the podium for Ferrari. In 2019, it was announced that after a hiatus of 35 years, Formula 1 racing would be returning to Zandvoort in 2020, but the Covid pandemic stretched that to one more year. The 4.2 km-long track is a rollercoaster of a ride for the current crop of Formula 1 drivers. The Zandvoort track swoops and flows throughout the lap leading to the famous Tarzan corner, creating 18-degrees banking similar to the Indianapolis track in the US. Apart from all the highs of Zandvoort, there are a few lows as well. The track is perfect for what one can call DRS trains in modern F1. The track lacks overtaking opportunities and is a murderer of tyres due to its swooping layout. Pirelli has decided they will allocate the C1, C2, and C3 compound tyres for this weekend.
#14 Italian Grand Prix
The fastest track in Formula One history, the track in Monza has played host to the Italian Grand Prix every year since 1949 except the 1980 season. The 5.7 km-long track has 11 corners in total but still reaches a lap average speed of 264 km/hr. Given the nickname “La Pista Magica” by the locals in Monza, cars run on full throttle for 80% of the lap and can reach more than 350 km/hr down the 1.1 km start-finish straight. The F1 cars run the lowest possible downforce to limit the level of drag on the straights. The cars try to carry as much speed as possible through Curva Grande down to the Variante della Roggia chicane, with cars reaching as much as 330 km/h before braking from a short distance of 100 metres as was seen with Lewis Hamilton trying to overtake Charles Leclerc in 2019 before missing his braking point and running off into the escape road. Though with not many high-speed corners, the speeds at which the cars go through the Parabolica and the Curva Grande put a medium-low level of load through the tyres for which the C2, C3, and the C4 compound have been allocated.
#15 Russian Grand Prix
The Sochi Autodrom in Russia has hosted the Russian Grand Prix since 2014. The 5.8 km-long track also holds a unique record of only being won by the Mercedes Team since its first race. Along with Zandvoort, Monaco, and Abu Dhabi, Sochi is one of the worst tracks for overtaking, with most of the corners at 90 degrees and small to no straights available for drivers to build up pace and brake hard to overtake. Sochi is another of those DRS train circuits. The Turn 3 Omega Curve is a 750 m-long flat-out left-hander. The drivers have to hug the kerb on the inside as much as possible as there is no grip on the outside. The front right tyre starts screaming with overheating by the time drivers complete five-six laps on a certain set of tyres. Except for the lone long left-hander, the track has lots of low-speed corners that aid in tyre preservation. Pirelli for that matter has allocated the C3, C4, and C5 compound tyres for his Grand Prix.
#16 Singapore Grand Prix
In 2008, the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore had the honour of hosting the first-ever night race in F1 history. The 5.083 km track is one of the most physically challenging tracks on the calendar. With 23 corners coupled with its bumpy track surface and humid conditions, the physical stress causes the drives to lose as much as 3 kg over a single race. The track itself has been revised many times over the years with the reprofiling of Turn 16 and Turn 17 in 2018 being the latest change. With not many fast corners and due to races being held during the nighttime, the C3, C4, and C5 tyres have been allocated for this year’s Singapore Grand Prix.
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#17 Japanese Grand Prix
You would not find one Formula 1 driver who says he doesn’t love the Suzuka track in Japan. Constructed in the early ’60s by Honda as a ‘test track’, the track gained popularity due to its “eight-shaped” layout. The high-speed track is one of the ultimate challenges for F1 drivers in the current calendar. With the snaking ‘S’ curves in the first sector, to 130R and the Casio Chicane in the final sector, drivers have to be alert at all times during a race weekend as a minor lapse of concentration can thump them into the barriers. Due to its high-speed corners and the lateral loading going through the tyres, Pirelli has decided to allocate the C1, C2, and C3 compound tyres for this weekend.
#18 United States Grand Prix
The Circuit of The Americas hosted its first Formula 1 Grand Prix in 2012. After a five-year gap since the 2007 US Grand Prix in Indianapolis, the 2012 US Grand Prix saw over 100,000 people flood the Austin based circuit to witness Lewis Hamilton’ last ever victory with McLaren. The Circuit of The Americas has bits and parts of it similar to the other tracks on the calendar. The sector of corners from Turn 3 to Turn 6 resembles the “S curves” from Suzuka while the Turns 12 through 15 resemble the Hockenheim stadium section. All in all, it has been a great overtaking fest in its very short time. Due to its long high-speed section in the first part of the track, the surface is considered as a medium-low degradation level for tyres. Pirelli, for that matter, will allocate the C2, C3, and C4 compound tyres.
#19 Mexican Grand Prix
The Mexican Grand Prix was the first part of the Formula 1 World Championship in 1963 and due to its carnival vibes staged the traditional season-ender for Formula 1 in the next few years. Formula 1 returned to Mexico in the 2015 season. At 2 km above sea level, the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is a breathless spectacle. The 4.3 km track still runs over the outline of the previous track but with a few modifications. The famous Peralta corner is now bisected, with the track now running through the Foro Sol Baseball Stadium, providing F1 fans with a one-off experience. Like the Circuit of The Americas, Pirelli has allocated the same compound of tyres, i.e., the C2, C3, and C4 compound tyres.
#20 Brazillian Grand Prix
Inspired by the success of Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi, Formula One hosted the first race in Brazil during the 1973 Formula 1 World Championships. Like most pre-world war tracks, the Interlagos track featured banked corners with drivers starting their laps on half ovals. In its glorious history, Interlagos has hosted many iconic races, from Ayrton Senna’s first home victory driving half the race with only three working gears, to Filipe Massa being crowned World Champion for 30 seconds before Lewis Hamilton passed Timo Glock in the final sector to snatch away the championship, to Fernando Alonso’s iconic 2012 title challenge where he fell short by one spot. The 4.2 km track has the fast wiggly Senna S and the downhill ride through Turn 4 leads the drivers to an inward snaking section before having the uphill drive down the front straight. Due to its fast and sweeping corners, the C2, C3, and C4 compound tyres have been allocated as the C1 tyres were ineffective in the 2019 race.
#21 Australian Grand Prix
Since the 1996 season, the Albert Park Circuit in Melbourne has been the curtain-raiser for most of the Formula One seasons except the 2006, 2010 and 2020 season. The 2020 season is still fresh in the memories of most F1 fans as the teams and drivers waited for the first practice session to begin before the race weekend was cancelled due to the Coronavirus outbreak. The 2021 season opener was scheduled to be held in Melbourne but was later rescheduled for November due to the risk of Coronavirus in Australia at that time. The 5.28 km track has seen the debut of many greats from past to present including the likes of Lewis Hamilton (2007), Fernando Alonso and Kimi Räikönen (both in 2001), while former Australian driver Mark Webber also made his debut in 2002. Due to its fast sections and bumpy surface, drivers need a car with a good chassis to chuck their cars into some of its tricky corners. Lewis Hamiton in 2019 set his pole position time at an average speed of 235 km/h making it one of the fastest tracks on the calendar. Pirelli has very good knowledge about the track and has allocated the C2, C3, and C4 compound tyres.
#22 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
The 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will be the inaugural Grand Prix to take place in Saudi Arabia. The 6.175 km track is a very fast circuit with the average lap pace of the cars set to be around 252 km/h, which is faster than Silverstone and only second to Monza. The Jeddah street circuit has the most number of corners in the Formula 1 calendar with 27, but the fast sweeping and sinuous bends won’t slow down the drivers at all. After initial simulation of the Jeddah Street Circuit, much has been feared that it could be one of those DRS train Meccas like the Abu Dhabi, Barcelona, and Sochi tracks in the current calendar. With not too much lateral loading on the tyres due to the sinuous bends and less rubbering of the surface, Pirelli has allocated the C2, C3, and C4 compound tyres.
#23 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
With money and power at the forefront of Formula One decision-making these days, the dull and boring Yas Marina Circuit will retain its place as the traditional season-ender for another season. Since its debut in the Formula 1 calendar in 2009, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has failed to live up to most F1 fans’ expectations. The 5.554 km track is dominated by the 1.2 km-long straight between the low-speed Turn 7 and 8, making it the only overtaking spot apart from the semi-long straight between Turn 10 and 11. The rest of the track is a technical one but with no options of overtaking. Another key highlight of the track is the section through Turn 15 to 17 where drivers have to brake hard with tons of lateral load still on the car. With no high-speed corners and a race under lights, tyres have very low-low tyre degradation on this track. For this Pirelli has decided to allocate the C3, C4, and C5 compound tyres for this race weekend.