It was only a few weeks ago that Formula 1 organisers had to replace the Canadian appointment of the current season’s calendar with the Turkish GP. Now, the pinnacle of motorsports has suffered another blow with the cancellation of the latter.
The persistent rumours about the difficulties that Turkey was facing to hold the GP have finally been confirmed. The Ottoman round, which was to take place at the Istanbul Park Circuit, is now officially cancelled.
The tipping point has been the inclusion of Turkey in the so-called travel red-list of high-risk countries by the United Kingdom. In effect, this means that citizens returning to the UK from the Eurasian country would have to keep a ten-day quarantine in a designated British hotel.
Considering that most of the teams have their headquarters in the United Kingdom and that their staff does not meet the exemption requirements from this travel restriction, the teams would have had virtually no time to transport their equipment from one circuit to another.
Formula 1 organisers have confirmed the news this Friday via an official statement. The Istanbul appointment has been crossed out of the calendar. Sport’s owners, Liberty Media have also confirmand that two consecutive races will now be held in Austria to replace the cancelled appointment.
Doubling up on already existing dates is an emergency solution that had already been used during the previous campaign, in response to the evolution of COVID-19 figures.
The measure, however, entails another reshuffling of the schedule meaning the French GP will now be brought forward one week, from June 18 to 20. The Austrian double-header will thus take place from June 25 to 27 (Styrian GP) and from July 2 to 4 (Austrian GP), both at the Red Bull Ring Circuit.
F1 Director-General, the Italian Stefano Domenicali, former Ferrari had the following to say about the changes adopted:
“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. Formula 1 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.”
“I want to thank the promoter and authorities in Turkey for all of their efforts in recent weeks and want to thank the promoters in France and Austria for their speed, flexibility and enthusiasm in accommodating this solution. We have had very good conversations will all the other promoters since the start of the year and continue to work closely with them during this period.”
In this way, the Azerbaijan GP, with its street circuit in the capital Baku, will be held at an independent weekend from June 4 to 6. The Grand Prix of France, Styria and Austria, on the other hand, will be held consecutively, the only instance three appointments will take place in a row during the 2021 season.
The promoter of the French GP, Eric Boullier, ex team principal of McLaren, has come forward to apologize to his country’s fans for the inconvenience caused by the changing of dates. He nonetheless, has also declared he remains hopeful that the event will be a success.
Turkey for its part, and despite the major setback that this means for the country, has requested Liberty Media to keep the door open for a chance to accommodate their GP at a later date this season.