Bahrain Grand Prix, and not Melbourne, will usher in the 2021 Formula One season on March 28. Image Credit: Reuters file

Kolkata: The 2021 Formula One season, which boasts of a record 23-race championship calendar, will take off in Bahrain on March 28 as the traditional season-opener in Melbourne has been postponed due to COVID-19 concerns.
 The Australian Grand Prix, which was scheduled to open the season on March 21, has been postponed to November 21. Another postponed race, the Chinese GP, which was initially set for April 11, has not been rescheduled. The season finale has been once again scheduled in Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital, on December 12.

Formula One, meanwhile, confirmed on Friday that the vacant May 2 slot in the calendar will be filled by the Portuguese Grand Prix. The Portimao circuit, in the Algarve, will host a Grand Prix for the second time in its history.

The only previous occasion came last October - the first in Portugal for 25 years.

The Portuguese GP will be the third race in the 2021 season and will be followed a week later by neighbouring Spain, meaning a straightforward transition from the Algarve to Barcelona.

“We are thrilled to announce that Formula 1 will be racing again in Portimao after the huge success of the race last year,” said Stefano Domenicali, President and CEO of Formula 1.

Twenty-seven thousand spectators were in attendance last autumn when Lewis Hamilton won his record-breaking 92nd Grand Prix and the organisers are keen to replicate that in spite of current coronavirus restrictions.

“We hope to welcome fans to Portimao again this season in a safe way and are working with the promoter on the details of that plan,” said Domenicali.

The May 2 slot was left vacant after the cancellation of the 2021 Vietnam Grand Prix for the second year in a row.

Revised 2021 calendar

March 28: Bahrain (Sakhir)

April 18: Italy (Imola*)

May 2: Portugal (Portimao)

May 9: Spain (Barcelona)

May 23: Monaco

June 6: Azerbaijan (Baku)

June 13: Canada (Montreal)

June 27: France (Le Castellet)

July 4: Austria (Spielberg)

July 18: Britain (Silverstone)

August 1: Hungary (Budapest)

August 29: Belgium (Spa-Francorchamps)

September 5: Netherlands (Zandvoort)

September 12: Italy (Monza)

September 26: Russia (Sochi)

October 3: Singapore

October 10: Japan (Suzuka)

October 24: United States (Austin)

October 31: Mexico (Mexico City)

November 7: Brazil (Sao Paulo)

November 21: Australia (Melbourne*)

December 5: Saudi Arabia (Jeddah**)

December 12: Abu Dhabi

* subject to World Motor Sport Council approval

** subject to circuit homologation