COVID derails Canadian Grand Prix on the trot


Turkey replaces Canada on F1 calendar Image: Formula One

Formula 1 has confirmed a change to Round 7 of the 2021 calendar, with the Turkish Grand Prix replacing the Canadian Grand Prix for the weekend of June 11th to 13th.

‘Formula One’ stated that due to the ongoing international travel restrictions in place in Canada it became impossible for Formula 1 to enter the country without compulsory 14-day quarantine, leading to the above change.

The June 13th race in Montreal was canceled recently for the second year on the trot due to the COVID-19 pandemic which continues to hammer Canada.

Formula One is the highest class of international auto racing for single-seater formula racing cars sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile.

The Turkish Grand Prix is a Formula One motor race held at the 1,25,000-capacity Istanbul Park Circuit in Turkey, designed by Hermann Tilke. The race was part of the Formula One World Championship between 2005 and 2011, before making a return in 2020 and 2021 following major schedule changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Canadian Grand Prix is an annual motor racing event held since 1961. It has been part of the Formula One World Championship since 1967.

Hermann Tilke is a German engineer, racing driver and circuit designer, who has designed numerous Formula One motor racing circuits.

A statement sent out by Formula 1 stated, “We are grateful for the efforts of the promoter and the authorities in Canada, Quebec and Montreal in the past few weeks to try and make the race happen and we are pleased to announce a two-year extension to our partnership with the Canadian Grand Prix. We will work with the promoter to ensure those with tickets from 2020 and 2021 races get the options of a refund or to transfer their tickets to next year’s race and look forward to racing in Canada in 2022.”

‘Formula One’ further stated that Turkey returns to the calendar after a thrilling first event in Istanbul in nine years last November, in which British racing driver Lewis Hamilton was crowned world champion for a record-equaling seventh time.

Remarked Stefano Domenicali, President and CEO, Formula 1, “While it is disappointing we cannot be in Canada this season we are excited to confirm that Turkey will host a Grand Prix in 2021 after an amazing race last season. I know all our fans are excited by the dramatic start to the season and Turkey is a great circuit that delivers great battles on the track.”

Added Domenicali, “I want to thank the promoter and authorities in Canada for all of their efforts in recent weeks but the travel situation made our plans impossible. I equally want to thank the promoter and authorities in Turkey for their ongoing willingness to host a Formula 1 race that shows the huge interest in our sport and the hope from many locations to have a Grand Prix. We have had very good conversations with all the other promoters since the start of the year and continue to work closely with them during this period.”

The Formula 1 community will continue to travel this season with stringent safety measures that allowed safe travel to 12 countries in 2020. The measures have proven to be highly effective with over 78,000 COVID-19 tests conducted last season with only 78 positive cases registered, a rate of 0.1 percent. So far, this season over 12,000 tests have been conducted with 14 positive cases again at a rate of 0.1 percent.

Formula One said it had extended Montreal’s contract by two years to take into account the cancellations, securing the race until 2031.

Vural Ak, Chairman of Istanbul circuit operator Intercity, said spectators would be welcome and hoped the race would lead to a long-term deal – “We have one of the most exciting circuits in the world, we really want our people and our foreign guests to be part of this excitement as well. Thanks to the pandemic measures and efforts our State has carried out, we plan to put tickets on sale as soon as possible.”

There were no races in the Americas or Far East last year, with the reduced, 17-round season conducted entirely in Europe and the Middle East and some circuits holding more than one Grand Prix as COVID totally decimated the F1 calendar.

‘In a bubble’

Formula One has operated in a bubble since the pandemic, with teams and staff regularly tested and many vaccinated while most races have been held behind closed doors, and is aiming for 23 Grands Prix this year.

The sport had hoped to visit Canada without a mandatory 14-day quarantine but a third wave of the fatal virus upset the whole F1 applecart.

Formula One said it would work with the Canadian promoter to refund or transfer tickets.

The race is the second cancellation of the year, after China, while Australia has been moved from March to November.

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