The 2021 Formula 1 season got underway in late March, but there is still one thing left that fans would love to see from 2020. Unfortunately, it probably isn’t going to happen.
The coronavirus pandemic-shortened 17-race 2020 Formula 1 season concluded in December at Yas Marina Circuit with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and the roughly three and a half-month offseason came to an end on Sunday, March 28 with the 2021 season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix at Bahrain International Circuit.
The 2020 schedule originally featured 22 races. But after the pandemic hit, it had to be shortened to 17 races, and only nine of those 17 races were among the 22 races which were initially on the schedule.
After nearly four months of delays, the season finally got underway in early July with the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring, one of only nine races which took place in 2020 after having been on the initial schedule.
The other eight originally scheduled races which did end up being run in 2020 (not necessarily on their originally scheduled dates) included the Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone Circuit, the Spanish Grand Prix at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and the Belgian Grand Prix at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.
The other four were the Italian Grand Prix at Autodromo Nazionale Monza, the Russian Grand Prix at Sochi Autodrom, the Bahrain Grand Prix at Bahrain International Circuit and the aforementioned Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit.
Take a look at the 13 races which were originally on what was a record-breaking 22 schedule but did not end up being contested in 2020.
- Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit
- Vietnamese Grand Prix at Hanoi Street Circuit
- Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai International Circuit
- Dutch Grand Prix at Circuit Zandvoort
- Monaco Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco
- Azerbaijan Grand Prix at Baku Circuit Circuit
- Canadian Grand Prix at Circuit Gilles VIlleneuve
- French Grand Prix at Circuit Paul Ricard
- Singapore Grand Prix at Marina Bay Street Circuit
- Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuit
- United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas
- Mexican Grand Prix at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez
- Brazilian Grand Prix at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace
Eight new events which were not originally on the schedule replaced these 13 races, and six did so at tracks which were not originally on the schedule.
NOTE: Bold denotes new tracks that were added.
- Styrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring
- 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone Circuit
- Tuscan Grand Prix at Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello
- Eifel Grand Prix at the Nurburgring
- Portuguese Grand Prix at Algarve International Circuit
- Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari
- Turkish Grand Prix at Intercity Istanbul Park
- Sakhir Grand Prix at Bahrain International Circuit (outer layout)
The late addition of six tracks to the 2020 schedule, including three which had never seen a Formula 1 race and three which had effectively become has-beens, left many fans wanting to see those tracks added to Codemasters’ F1 2020 video game.
This unfortunately won’t happen in an update, and we aren’t likely to see any special updates with these unexpected tracks in the 2021 edition either, an edition which is already slated to see a record 24 tracks, including Jeddah Street Circuit, the host of the new Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Fortunately, both Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari and Algarve International Circuit returned to the 2021 schedule, despite neither one officially having a date when the schedule was released, so only four of the six additional tracks from last year will be without an appearance in-game.
The former hosted the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on Sunday, April 18, and the latter hosted the Portuguese Grand Prix two weeks later on Sunday, May 2.
Intercity Istanbul Park, the host of the Turkish Grand Prix, was originally set to replace Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, the host of the Canadian Grand Prix, but COVID-19-related restrictions led to the Red Bull Ring getting a second race date for the second straight season with the Styrian Grand Prix.
But when the Singapore Grand Prix at Marina Bay Street Circuit was canceled, Intercity Istanbul Park was re-added to the schedule.
Sadly, because of all the changes, Intercity Istanbul Park won’t be in the game this year.
Here is what game director Lee Mather had to say even before the delayed 2020 season began, according to GP Blog.
“Circuits are the most time intense element of the development, with each circuit taking the time equivalent of 1 year of development to create. Along with building the circuits, there’s also the AI to train, the camera placement to set-up. F1 2020 is based on the original 2020 season and we are delighted to include Hanoi Circuit and Circuit Zandvoort. Unfortunately it is not possible to add new circuits to the revised 2020 season.”
While there was more time to add the other tracks to the 2021 edition given the fact that the game is only slated to come out later this week, we are talking about several new tracks, not the usual one or two (such as the addition of Hanoi Street Circuit and Circuit Zandvoort to the 2020 edition).
Even EA Sports’ $1.2 billion purchase of Codemasters’ and its stable of racing games won’t change that.
Sure, three of those six tracks had previously featured Formula 1 races and one of them is simply an alternate layout of a course which was already on the schedule, but the game has evolved over the years, and it’s not as simple as copying files from the game several years ago or rerouting cars on an existing layout.
Additionally, we are talking about a number of tracks that we likely won’t see on the calendar again anytime soon.
So there is effectively no point in investing the time, energy and money to add what amount to be placeholders to a new game where they would already be obsolete — a game that the same number of people are going to purchase regardless, especially given the exciting new Braking Point feature.
While it would be great to get a special edition featuring these rare circuits, that doesn’t appear to be in the cards. The only way for that to change is if these tracks end up landing permanent dates on the calendar — or even if they end up on the original schedule for just one future season — but that doesn’t look all that likely, at least for most of them.
The game is set to launch on Friday, July 16 on on Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5, alongside Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC (via Steam). The digital Deluxe Edition is set to be released on Tuesday, July 13 with additional content, including seven iconic drivers for use in the My Team mode.