F1 Loses One of Its Best 2020 Races as Turkey Dropped from June Schedule

Turkey may have been one of 2020’s best GPs, but travel restrictions mean F1 won’t get a second shot at Istanbul Park in 2021.

byJames Gilboy|
F1 photo

Despite hosting one of the best Formula 1 Grands Prix of 2020, Istanbul Park will not welcome F1 again in 2021 as originally planned. Citing pandemic-related travel restrictions, the world's premiere open-wheel race series will not visit Turkey, and will instead add a second date at a legacy track to fill the gap.

Initially scheduled for June 11-13 with a weekend off between it and the French Grand Prix, the Turkish race's cancellation forces F1 to advance France a week to June 18-20. Standing in for its original calendar date will be a renewed Styrian Grand Prix, followed by the Austrian Grand Prix, for a double-header at the Red Bull Ring and a triple-header with France in the mix.

Charles Leclerc at the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix, Scuderia Ferrari

According to Motorsport, the race in Instanbul had to be nixed after Turkey was added to the U.K.'s "red list" of countries, where anyone traveling directly back to the U.K. from Turkey would need to complete a 10-day mandatory quarantine. Officials considered shuffling the Azerbaijan race to accommodate that window, but that proved untenable because it conflicted with Baku's simultaneous plans to host the delayed UEFA Euro 2020 soccer tournament.

Adding a second Austrian race allows F1 to retain its planned 23-race calendar, which may yet include events in informally dropped countries such as China and Turkey—both countries' promoters reportedly asked F1 to consider rescheduling their races for later in 2021 if possible.

This calendar change, however, also introduces a non-critical schedule conflict for championship leader Mercedes-AMG. The team previously announced it would grant retired F1 driver Romain Grosjean a drive of its 2019 car—the W10—at the French Grand Prix, but Grosjean has IndyCar commitments that same weekend, as the Road America race now coincides with that Grand Prix. Mercedes confirmed on Twitter that the Frenchman will still get a full-day test in its F1 car but the demo laps planned for the French GP weekend are now off.

Regardless, Grosjean will still experience the kind of car he never got to while in F1. Strutting a Silver Arrow in front of his home crowd would be ideal, sure, but most F1 fans can think of better tracks to drive than the dull, epileptic seizure-inducing Circuit Paul Ricard.

Update at 1:40 p.m. ET on 05/14/2021: At the initial time of publishing, Mercedes-AMG had yet to say if it would still provide Grosjean a test in the W10. Now that the team has since confirmed on Twitter that it's a go, we've edited the relevant text.

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