Goodbye, Turkey - Formula 1 drops, adds races amid global Covid-19 travel restrictions

2020 Turkish Grand Prix
2020 Turkish Grand Prix
Clive Mason

• The Turkish Grand Prix has been removed from the 2021 F1 calendar.

• The removal will see two races take place in Austria.

• The French GP will now take place one week earlier.

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The Turkish Grand Prix, which was only drafted onto the Formula 1 calendar as a replacement for the cancelled Canada GP two weeks ago, was itself axed on Friday (14 May). F1 chiefs, forced into another change due to Covid-19 protocols, announced that they will instead return to the sport's safe haven of Austria.

The decision was made in the wake of the "announcement of new travel restrictions imposed by several countries in which F1 teams are based, affecting travel from Turkey", they said.

"Following discussions with the promoter in Turkey and relevant stakeholders, it will not be possible to have the race in Turkey between 11 - 13 June. The promoter has requested that we look at the potential opportunity for the race to be rescheduled later in the season if possible, alongside China who made the same request earlier this year."

F1 confirmed that there will now be two races in Austria, back to back, with the first race, the Styrian Grand Prix, taking place on 25 - 27 June and the Austrian Grand Prix taking place on its original date of 2 - 4 July.

As a result of this change the French Grand Prix will move one week earlier to 18 - 25 June.

Turkey on UK red list

Turkey's fate as a race host was sealed Thursday when the British government placed the country on its 'red' travel list. That would see the strictest health restrictions imposed on British residents who would have to quarantine for 10 days in a hotel at their own expense on their return.

Seven of F1's 10 teams are based in the United Kingdom.

Stefano Domenicali, F1 president and CEO, said: "We were all looking forward to racing in Turkey but the travel restrictions in place have meant we are not able to be there in June. F1 has shown again that it is able to react quickly to developments and find solutions and we are delighted that we will have a double header in Austria meaning our season remains at 23 races."

In the pandemic-hit 2020 season, Austria hosted the first two races at the Spielberg circuit which nestles in the foothills of the Alps. There went on to being 17 races in total, in 12 countries. The 2021 season started in Bahrain on 28 March, after the postponement of the Australian Grand Prix. The Melbourne race is now set for 21 November but remains under the threat of cancellation due to severe travel restrictions in Australia.

Several other races in Asia in the autumn (Singapore and Japan) and the Americas (United States, Mexico and Brazil) are also uncertain due to the health situation.

"The current Covid-19 situation remains fluid and we will continue to monitor the situation with the promoters and teams, but Formula 1 has again shown it is able to deal with these challenges and adapt swiftly to reduce the impact on the season," F1 chiefs said in a statement.

More than 78 000 Covid tests were conducted in the F1 community last season returning only 78 positive tests, they said. So far this season, 17 000 tests have been carried out with 15 positive cases, returning a similarly low rate of 0.1 percent.

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