LAST weekend’s F1 race saw drivers return to Baku for the first Azerbaijan Grand Prix since 2019. Known for its 90-degree turns, mammoth 2.2km straight and unpredictability, the street circuit has produced a different winner every year since 2016.
The F1 calendar 2021 has been shaken up by the coronavirus pandemic once more, which continues to affect both the schedule as well as the ability for spectators to attend races.
However, this season is proving to be one of the most exciting and dramatic we’ve seen in many years as Red Bull Racing is a genuine challenger to Mercedes, which has dominated in recent years, and leads the teams championship. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen is currently on top in the driver’s championship, too, ahead of British ace Lewis Hamilton.
What’s more, the likes of Ferrari, Alpha Tauri and McLaren are much closer to the top teams this year.
What time is the 2021 French Grand Prix?
The French Grand Prix starts at 2pm on June 20.
Practice 1 starts at 10:30am on Friday, June 18, with Practice 2 commencing at 14:00 on the same day. On the Saturday, Practice 3 will start at 11:00am, before qualifying gets underway at 2pm.
F1 calendar 2021
Coronavirus-related disruption means that, as in 2020, we are seeing cars powering around tracks that don’t usually appear on the Formula 1 calendar, such as the race in Portimão.
However, the 2021 season sees the return of some races that weren’t possible last year, including many of the far-flung “flyaway” venues. These include Australia, America and Brazil.
We also got back the jewel in the crown of F1: the Monaco GP, which was won this year by Max Verstappen.
Like last year, the calendar has been forced to undergo some changes due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The Turkish Grand Prix, which was scheduled to take place on June 13, has been cancelled due to ongoing travel restrictions. To make up for the shortfall and ensure 23 races take place this season, there will now be two back-to-back races in Austria at the end of June and beginning of July.
The Singapore Grand Prix has also been cancelled due to the city state’s restrictions on immigration. Turkey, China and a second race in Austin, Texas are all reportedly being considered as replacement options.
Upcoming F1 grands prix
June 20: French Grand Prix, Le Castellet
June 27: Styrian Grand Prix, Spielberg
July 2: Austrian Grand Prix, Spielberg
July 18: British Grand Prix, Silverstone
August 01: Hungarian Grand Prix, Budapest
August 29: Belgian Grand Prix, Spa-Francorchamps
September 5: Dutch Grand Prix, Zandvoort
September 12: Italian Grand Prix, Monza
September 26: Russian Grand Prix, Sochi
October 3: Singapore Grand Prix, Marina Bay (cancelled)
October 10: Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka
October 24: United States Grand Prix, Austin
October 31: Mexican Grand Prix, Mexico City
November 7: Brazilian Grand Prix, São Paulo
November 21: Australian Grand Prix, Melbourne
December 5: Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Jeddah
December 12: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina
Completed F1 races
March 28: Bahrain Grand Prix, Sakhir: In a thrilling season opener we saw the rivalry between Hamilton and Verstappen as close as it’s ever been, with the two drivers swapping the lead throughout the race. Verstappen attempted a pass Hamilton on the 53rd of 57 laps but was forced to give the place back after being deemed to have contravened track limits. Hamilton eventually won the race by 0.7 seconds, leading Verstappen and Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas.
April 18: Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Imola: Another action-packed race saw Hamilton start on pole, only to fall victim to a second-gear lunge from Verstappen on the rain-soaked first lap. Attempting to lap George Russell on the 31st lap of the race Hamilton fell further back, after struggling to find grip on a still-wet track, ending up in the gravel and dropping to eighth. However, a high speed collision between Valtteri Bottas and George Russell, which saw each driver blame the other, brought the pack back together and Hamilton recovered to second. Fellow Brit Lando Norris completed the podium after an ace drive that took him from seventh to third.
May 2: Portuguese Grand Prix, Portimão: After a poor qualifying performance in San Marino, Valtteri Bottas earned a spot at the front of the grid for the Portuguese Grand Prix in Portimão. Both Mercedes started well, with Bottas building a comfortable lead over second-placed Hamilton until a crash between Alfa Romeo teammates Antonio Giovanazzi and Kimi Raikkonen brought out the safety car. On the restart Hamilton hesitated, allowing Verstappen to overtake him, but regained second place just a few laps after, and moved swiftly up to first on the 20th lap. Things were made worse for Bottas when a sub-par pitstop allowed Verstappen the time he needed to enter the DRS zone, with the Finn falling down to, and finishing, third.
May 9: Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona: Hamilton earned the 100th pole position of his career in Barcelona, but duly gave up first position on the first corner of the grand prix, having no option but to sacrifice the spot to an aggressive move by Max Verstappen. A tense, race-long battle then commenced, but it was ultimately Hamilton and Mercedes, making excellent use of a two-stop strategy, who came out on top, overtaking Verstappen with six laps of the race to go for his third win in the season’s first four races.
May 23: Monaco Grand Prix, Monte Carlo: It’s unlikely that 2021’s race will go down in the annals of Monaco Grand Prix history. Qualifying was cut short by a Q3 crash by pole-sitter, Monaco native and Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, causing a drivetrain issue that would ultimately prevent him from starting the race. That left Max Verstappen on pole, enabling him to take a lead from the start that he never looked like relinquishing. It was a notable off-day for Mercedes, with world champion Lewis Hamilton finishing seventh (in doing so allowing Verstappen to overtake him in the standings) and Bottas forced to retire after mechanics were unable to remove his front-right tyre during a pitstop. The Ferrari of Carlos Sainz came in second while Lando Norris claimed his second podium of the season, in third.
June 06: Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Baku: The drama dutifully returned on the street circuit of Azerbaijan’s capital, with a joint-record four red flags brought out during Saturday’s qualifying session. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc managed to grasp pole position for the second race in a row but failed to keep it beyond lap two, when he was overtaken by Lewis Hamilton. After that the Monegasque went backwards down the order but recovered to fourth. However, the real drama came in the latter part of the race, when leader Max Verstappen suffered a tyre blowout at high speed on lap 45 of 51, becoming the second driver after Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll to suffer the same issue. That triggered a red flag, with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton lining up on the first row of the grid. However, a lock-up from Hamilton sent him into the turn one run-off, and he could only manage to recover to 15th, leaving Perez to take the win. It was a stellar day for former champion Sebastian Vettel, who claimed second place in his Aston Martin, while Pierre Gasly once again proved he can make it count on race day with the third podium spot.
F1 driver standings 2021
- Max Verstappen (NED) RED BULL RACING HONDA 105
- Lewis Hamilton (GBR) MERCEDES 101
- Sergio Perez (MEX) RED BULL RACING HONDA 69
- Lando Norris (GBR) MCLAREN MERCEDES 66
- Charles Leclerc (MON) FERRARI 52
- Valtteri Bottas (FIN) MERCEDES 47
- Carlos Sainz (ESP) FERRARI 42
- Pierre Gasly (FRA) ALPHATAURI HONDA 31
- Sebastian Vettel (GER) ASTON MARTIN MERCEDES 28
- Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) MCLAREN MERCEDES 26
- Fernando Alonso (ESP) ALPINE RENAULT 13
- Esteban Ocon (FRA) ALPINE RENAULT 12
- Lance Stroll (CAN) ASTON MARTIN MERCEDES 9
- Yuki Tsunoda (JPN) ALPHATAURI HONDA 8
- Kimi Räikkönen (FIN) ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI 1
- Antonio Giovinazzi (ITA) ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI 1
- Mick Schumacher (GER) HAAS FERRARI 0
- George Russell (GBR) WILLIAMS MERCEDES 0
- Nikita Mazepin (RAF) HAAS FERRARI 0
- Nicholas Latifi (CAN) WILLIAMS MERCEDES 0
F1 team standings 2021
- RED BULL RACING HONDA 174
- MERCEDES 148
- FERRARI 94
- MCLAREN MERCEDES 92
- ALPHATAURI HONDA 39
- ASTON MARTIN MERCEDES 37
- ALPINE RENAULT 25
- ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI 2
- HAAS FERRARI 0
- WILLIAMS MERCEDES 0
How to watch F1 races in the UK this year
Sky Sports F1
You’ll be able to watch every race, as well as the qualifying and practice sessions, on Sky Sports F1, which costs £18 per month for people already paying for Sky TV, or £43 per month alongside Sky TV. As part of the package you also get exclusive documentaries and interviews from the Sky Sports F1 team, as well as historic races.
You can also watch using Sky’s Now TV on demand service, which offers Sky Sports Day Passes for £9.99 or monthly passes for £33.99.
Channel 4 coverage
For those on a budget, once again there are extended highlights of all F1 races on Channel 4, which will also show live coverage of the British Grand Prix in July. Highlights are also be available on the channel’s on-demand service, All 4.
Formula 1: Drive to Survive
Also, don’t miss the third season of Netflix exclusive series Formula 1: Drive to Survive. The 2020 recap went live on March 19, 2021. It’s a brilliant behind-the-scenes look at the sport, showing much more of the drama, tantrums and tears that are often unseen by the regular TV cameras. Just hearing F1 team members swearing was quite the revelation when the first series aired, and the emotions captured make the characters involved in the sport seem much more human than the sanitised
The third season covers the shortened 2020 F1 championship, focusing on Lewis Hamilton, Daniel Ricciardo and other top drivers as Covid-19 turned the world upside down.
- In March, the world of Formula One paid tribute to the late Murray Walker, the voice of the sport for more than two decades.
- Aston Martin has revealed that it will supply safety and medical cars for the 2021 season.
- Enjoyed our 2021 F1 calendar and start time guide? You might be interested in Lewis Hamilton’s five best Formula One wins.