MotoGP, 2021 calendar: the 'double-headers' are back, after Qatar, Red Bull Ring and Misano

There are dates still in the balance, but Dorna wants to maintain the maximum number of races and with the overseas events at risk the only solution is to double up on the available circuits

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Tonight at 20:00 we will be talking extensively about it with Carlo Pernat in our usual 'Bar Sport', but the pandemic situation, far from being under control, gives us the impression that the current provisional MotoGP calendar is precisely that: provisional.

Initially scheduled at 20 races, it lost the historic Brno event along the way, as the circuit, without spectators, is unable to face the costs of redoing the asphalt, which is now in a pretty ruinous state.

The absence of the Czech Republic Grand Prix has led to a big gap between the Finnish GP at the KymiRing circuit, which is still awaiting homologation, on 11 July and the Austrian GP at the Red Bull Ring, on 15 August.

A month of vacation that, rest assured, will be filled by one or even two races as there are other tracks at risk of defection and Dorna must organize a calendar with as many races as possible.

This is because the championship, economically, lives off revenue from TV rights, and every race that is cancelled monetarily leaves a hole that after the world championship with only 14 Grands Prix in 2020 we absolutely want to avoid.

For this reason, on those dates, there is already the possibility of another double-header with the Styrian GP, ​​as in the past year.

"There is still a lot of uncertainty and we will probably have to change our plans. The advantage over 2020 is that we can start the season in Qatar in March and manage it until November - said Carmelo Ezpeleta - while last year we were unable to race the first MotoGP race until mid-July in Jerez ”.

The Dorna boss is aiming for a minimum of 18 Grands Prix. Perhaps more could be done, but only thanks to 'double-headers’. It will depend on how much the pandemic situation evolves between now and October. Or perhaps towards the end of the summer many people around the world will have been vaccinated against the coronavirus. But given the difficulty in supplying vaccines, this seems unlikely.

All in all, the start of the championship, on the other hand, will be quite quiet: at Losail they are even thinking about opening up to the public ... but since even in the past there have never been more than 1,500/2,000 spectators, it goes without saying that this is not really a step forward .

And in the year preceding the football World Cup, Qatar wants to do everything possible to show that it has curbed the epidemic as best it can.

We can’t say the same about Portugal: it is unlikely that Portimao will open to the public on the 18th. Moreover, the Algarve track has several top events scheduled with F1 on 2 May and Superbike the following week.

The problem, for everyone, is time: decrees are following the speed with which the epidemic extends or contracts and collides with the organizers' need to know within 90 or 60 days, depending on whether the GP is overseas or in Europe, whether it is possible to organize the race or not, to give Dorna time to take countermeasures.

In this sense, as regards the twinned-together Grands Prix of Motegi and Buriram on 3 and 10 October and those of Phillip Island and Sepang on 24 and 31 of the same month, only towards the end of June or July will we know whether it will be possible to organize them.

For this reason Dorna is already thinking about possible other European double-headers, in addition to the Austrian one: Misano and Aragon have already been put on pre-alert, and Valencia is also a possible venue.

What we have just said leads us to state that there will be no Hospitality in the paddock this year, even if Dorna has opened it up to a limited number of VIPs. Maybe 5 for the MotoGP teams and 4 for the other teams.

With these numbers, however, no team will mount their usual expensive structures, so it is more than likely that any guests will be paid (for a fee of course) by Dorna in the even more exclusive VIP Village at this point.

Still up in the air, however, is the situation of the written press, which last year, starting from the Misano GP, was even relegated to a separate room from the press room, which housed the photographers.

Although the media were subjected to the same regulation as the 'bubble', therefore mandatory swabs, Dorna wanted to avoid any risk of contagion, therefore there was no access to the paddock.

The situation could remain the same, or improve, for the first Grands Prix. There is talk of a possible access to the pitlane, with a ban on entering the pits, obviously always with the necessary precautions, masks and social distancing, but we should know something more in the coming days as the start of the championship approaches, with the tests getting underway on March 5th.

Test dates:

3-4 March: Set-up

5 March: Shakedown Test - only rookies and test riders

6-7 March: Official Test (all riders)

10-12 March: Official Test (all riders)

 

 

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