2021 Formula 1 season: Calendar, rules changes, drivers and more

Following a disjointed 2020, Formula 1 is aiming big with a planned 23-round season in 2021. Discover the 2021 F1 calendar, the tweaks to the technical regulations and the latest driver changes.

2021 Formula 1 Calendar

In the face of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, Formula 1 has had to completely rejig its 2020 calendar and confine its season to Europe and the Middle East only.

The Monaco Grand Prix wasn't run for the first time since 1954, while Portimao and Mugello hosted F1 races for the first time and popular tracks like the Nurburgring, Imola and Istanbul Park all made a surprise return.

For 2021 Formula 1 has put together a record-breaking 23-race calendar, returning to conventional dates while adding new races in the Netherlands and Saudi Arabia.

The Vietnamese Grand Prix in Hanoi, which was set to debut in 2020 before the coronavirus struck, will not be held in 2021 either. Its slot will be taken over by the Portuguese Grand Prix.

The Australian Grand Prix will move from its season opening slot to the end of the season, making Bahrain the 2021 season opener.

The Chinese Grand Prix has also requested a new date, its slot as the second race of the season taken up by Imola.

Provisional 23-round 2021 F1 Calendar

March 28 Bahrain Bahrain Grand Prix Sakhir
April 18
Italy Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Imola
May 2 Portugal Portuguese Grand Prix Portimao
May 9 Spain Spanish Grand Prix Barcelona
May 23 Monaco Monaco Grand Prix Monaco
June 6 Azerbaijan Azerbaijan Grand Prix Baku
June 13 Canada Canadian Grand Prix Montreal
June 27 France French Grand Prix Le Castellet
July 4 Austria Austrian Grand Prix Spielberg
July 18 United Kingdom British Grand Prix Silverstone
August 1 Hungary Hungarian Grand Prix Budapest
August 29 Belgium Belgian Grand Prix Spa-Francorchamps
September 5
Netherlands Dutch Grand Prix Zandvoort
September 12 Italy Italian Grand Prix Monza
September 26 Russian Federation Russian Grand Prix Sochi
October 3
Singapore Singapore Grand Prix Singapore
October 10 Japan Japanese Grand Prix Suzuka
October 24 United States United States Grand Prix Austin
October 31 Mexico Mexican Grand Prix Mexico
November 14 Brazil Sao Paulo Grand Prix Sao Paulo
November 21 Australia Australian Grand Prix  Melbourne
December 5 Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Jeddah
December 12 United Arab Emirates Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Abu Dhabi

2021 Formula 1 Rules Changes

The 2021 F1 season was set to introduce all-new technical regulations aimed at improving the show, but due to COVID-19 the new cars, which will benefit from the ground-effect to reduce their dependence on clear air, will be pushed back to 2022.

Delaying the new regulations, and freezing development work on the 2022 cars until January 2021, was pushed through in a bid to slash costs, with F1 facing a massive reduction in income from its largely spectator-less 2020 season.

That does not mean that the technical regs will remain unchanged for 2021. In order to help Pirelli's tyres cope with the ever faster cars, tweaks have been made to the cars to reduce downforce in 2021, particularly targeting the floor.

Pirelli was supposed to keep its 2019-spec compounds for a third season in a row, although it recently had teams test prototype tyres for next year. Those prototypes, which feature a more robust construction, were heavily criticised by the drivers, so it remains to be seen which specification will ultimately be used.

In a further bid to reduce costs ahead of the incoming budget cap, teams will also be forced to stick to their current chassis for 2021, although they are allowed to spend so-called development tokens to rework certain areas of their cars, including the aerodynamics. Engine manufacturers are also allowed to introduce a new power unit specification before the start of the 2021 season.

2021 Formula 1 Driver List

Formula 1 has seen a flurry of silly season activity this year. Due to the pandemic and the delayed season start, most teams seem to have conducted their business earlier in the season than normal. Ferrari stole the early headlines by opting not to renew Sebastian Vettel's contract before the delayed season even began, moving to replace the four-time world champion with McLaren's Carlos Sainz. That in turn caused further dominoes to fall. McLaren snapped up Daniel Ricciardo from Renault, who in turn brought back Fernando Alonso out of the Spaniard's F1 retirement.

Vettel then found a home at Racing Point, which will race as Aston Martin in 2021, displacing F1's latest race winner Sergio Perez. Perez became the focal point of the silly season alongside Alexander Albon, who is underperforming at Red Bull Racing and under threat of being replaced by either Perez or Nico Hulkenberg.

If Albon does get replaced, the chances of him remaining in F1 appear to be slim, with AlphaTauri all but certain to promote F2 rookie star Yuki Tsunoda.

Further down the grid Haas made waves by contracting 2020 Formula 2 champion Mick Schumacher and well-backed front-runner Nikita Mazepin.

Missing on the list of confirmed drivers is seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, who hasn't signed a fresh Mercedes deal yet, but is widely expected to do so in the coming weeks.

2021 F1 line-up

Team Engine Confirmed drivers  Possible drivers
Mercedes Mercedes

FinlandValtteri Bottas 

?

United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton

Ferrari Ferrari

Monaco Charles Leclerc 
Spain Carlos Sainz 

 

Red Bull Racing Honda

Netherlands Max Verstappen 

?

Germany Nico Hulkenberg

Mexico Sergio Perez
Thailand Alexander Albon

McLaren Mercedes

Australia Daniel Ricciardo 

United Kingdom Lando Norris 

 

Alpine Renault

France Esteban Ocon 
Spain Fernando Alonso 

 

Aston Martin Mercedes

Germany Sebastian Vettel 

Canada Lance Stroll

 

AlphaTauri Honda

France Pierre Gasly 

?

Japan Yuki Tsunoda

Russian Federation Daniil Kvyat

Alfa Romeo Ferrari

Finland Kimi Raikkonen 

Italy Antonio Giovinazzi

 

Haas F1 Ferrari

Germany Mick Schumacher 

Russian Federation Nikita Mazepin 

 

Williams Mercedes

United Kingdom George Russell 

Canada Nicholas Latifi 

 

When does 2021 F1 Pre-Season testing start?

F1's traditional pre-season testing is set for sweeping changes, with testing further reduced from six days in 2020 to just three days in 2021. The three-days test is generally held late February, but the exact date and location has not yet been decided. In recent years the test has been held in Barcelona, but the 2021 winter test is likely to be moved to Bahrain.

When are the 2021 F1 cars revealed?

Traditionally F1's launch season precedes winter testing, with teams either deciding to do a live or online launch before heading to the test, or opting to present their new challenger in the pitlane on the morning of the first test day.

Team launches have become more and more low-key in recent years, although the likes of Ferrari and AlphaTauri decided to hold a major in-person launch event last winter.

There are no confirmed launch dates for 2021 right now, but expect teams to present their new creations in the two-week run-up to the three-day test.

shares
comments
Haas unable to give Grosjean farewell Formula 1 test

Previous article

Haas unable to give Grosjean farewell Formula 1 test

Next article

Perez set for grid penalty after engine change in Abu Dhabi

Perez set for grid penalty after engine change in Abu Dhabi
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Author Filip Cleeren
Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place Prime

Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place

Three points finishes from as many starts represents a decent opening innings on paper, but Daniel Ricciardo has endured a tough start to his McLaren career - only magnified his teammate's excellent form. Yet both he and the team have good reason to expect a turnaround soon.

What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors Prime

What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors

OPINION: Going up against the dominant force of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton was always going to demand the best from Red Bull and Max Verstappen. But after making a couple more errors during the Portuguese Grand Prix, the Dutch driver showed there's a small gap he still needs to close in the 2021 Formula 1 title fight.

Formula 1
May 5, 2021
The "subtle" Red Bull upgrades that kept it in the Portugal F1 mix Prime

The "subtle" Red Bull upgrades that kept it in the Portugal F1 mix

Red Bull's Portuguese Grand Prix fortunes were decidedly second best to Mercedes', but the result skews the potential that the team had at Portimao. With a new set of updates, the team looks good going forward into the rest of 2021's spicy F1 competition

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
Portuguese Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Portuguese Grand Prix driver ratings

The 2021 Portuguese GP will for several drivers go down as a weekend of missed opportunities amid imperfect track conditions that caused struggles with tyre warm-up. But the performances of a select few stood out from the crowd

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
The five key tests Hamilton passed to claim Portugal victory Prime

The five key tests Hamilton passed to claim Portugal victory

Just as he did in 2020, Lewis Hamilton had to come from behind to win the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix. Only this time there were two rivals he had to pass, among the several challenges he had to overcome, on his way to securing a 97th grand prix victory

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
The data that leaves both Red Bull, Mercedes uncertain of supremacy Prime

The data that leaves both Red Bull, Mercedes uncertain of supremacy

Lewis Hamilton topped the crucial FP2 session on Friday as F1 returned to Portugal, but his Mercedes team cannot be sure it has the edge on its Red Bull rivals. As cool temperatures and wind combine with the still-slippery surface to present drivers with quandaries over set-up and tyre warmup, there's still everything to play for come qualifying.

Formula 1
May 1, 2021
How in-form Norris is staking his claim as Britain's next F1 champion Prime

How in-form Norris is staking his claim as Britain's next F1 champion

As a highly-rated Mercedes junior, George Russell is naturally billed as Lewis Hamilton's heir apparent where Britain's next Formula 1 champion is concerned. But he may face competition for that accolade from Lando Norris, fresh from a confidence-boosting run to third at Imola whose rise is being accelerated by his McLaren team’s revival

Formula 1
Apr 29, 2021
The biggest headache F1 faces over its sprint race experiments Prime

The biggest headache F1 faces over its sprint race experiments

The news this week that F1 has green-lit 'sprint qualifying' races that will determine the grid for three grands prix in 2021 was met with a blend of excitement and scepticism. But before those in both camps can be vilified, F1 must first work out what its criteria is for success - and what will justify making them a more permanent fixture

Formula 1
Apr 28, 2021