Twenty-three races are scheduled for the 2021 Formula 1 schedule after its publication on Tuesday, but the president of the Canadian Grand Prix remains cautious to just what racing will happen next season.
During the announcement of the calendar, Formula 1 CEO Chase Carey said he expected to see spectators return to the circuits next season, but with the coronavirus pandemic still ongoing, there will remain doubts about whether races will take place with or without the fans, or if they happen at all.
Francois Dumontier says he expects Formula 1 to push on with its racing next season, but he is uncertain to whether or not the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve will see the return of fans after the race was announced to return across the weekend of 11-13 June 2021 after being cancelled for 2020 due to COVID-19.
“I am optimistic, but I am realistic at the same time,” said Dumontier to Canadian publication, La Presse Canadienne. “There will be a Formula One season in 2021, that’s for sure. Seventeen races would be the minimum, and I remain optimistic that next season will be a little longer than the current one.
“You know, there have been four or five races with spectators in the stands in 2020, I am thinking of Portugal and Russia in particular. So I think there will be more races with spectators in 2021.
“But when I hear Chase Carey’s comments that he expects to see spectators in the stands next year, I tell myself that it probably won’t be possible in some countries.”
Dumontier insists everything will be done to ensure a Canadian Grand Prix takes place in 2021, although he acknowledges that should it be held behind closed doors without the presence of the fans, they will need some financial backing from the local government for it to go ahead.
“This year, the pandemic has struck,” he said. “Now we know it exists, and we can live with it [the virus] to some extent. There will be a vaccine eventually, although we don’t know when.
“We need to protect the remaining years of our contract, to avoid losing our race. Yes, Montreal is one of [the series’] favourite Grands Prix, but business is business.
“It’s obvious to me that for it to be viable, there will have to be a certain number of spectators [in 2021]. If it has to be behind closed doors, which is not out of the question, then I will have to have a discussion with the local authorities to receive some financial support.”