Portuguese green light for 23-race F1 season; Canal Plus keeps FTA rights in France
Portimao will stage the third race of the 2021 campaign on 2 May, following an agreement between the promoter and the Portuguese government.
All parties are in talks about fans being in attendance, should the pandemic allow, and a decision is expected in the next couple of weeks.
Last October, Portimao staged the revived Portuguese Grand Prix, which was added to the calendar following the cancellation of various events due to Covid-19..
Stefano Domenicali, president and chief executive of Formula 1, said on Friday: “We are thrilled to announce that Formula 1 will be racing again in Portimao after the huge success of the race last year. We want to thank the promoter and the Portuguese Government for their hard work and dedication in getting us to this point.
"We are confident and excited about our 2021 season, having shown last year that we could deliver 17 races safely and bring our millions of fans thrilling racing at a difficult time. We hope to welcome fans to Portimao again this season in a safe way and are working with the promoter on the details of that plan.”
Rita Marques, Portugal’s secretary of state of tourism, added: “Holding major events in our country is very important for the image and international promotion of Portugal as a tourist destination, and so it is with great interest that we see the return of Formula 1 to the Algarve in 2021. I want to thank the FIA and F1 for its confidence in Portugal, the Algarve and the Algarve International Racetrack by choosing our country to host a stage of the F1 calendar, and to express our full commitment to make it a big success.”
The 2021 Formula 1 season will get under way on 28 March in Bahrain, with other races slated for: Italy (two), Spain, Monaco, Azerbaijan, Canada, France, Austria, UK, Belgium, Hungary, Netherlands, Russia, Singapore, Japan, USA, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.
Meanwhile, Canal Plus, the pay-TV broadcaster that holds Formula 1 rights in France to 2022, is set to show four grands prix this season on one of its free channels, rather than sub-license them to a free-to-air channel.
TF1, the commercial broadcaster, had a three-year deal in place with Canal Plus to show four races each year, but that deal expired after the 2020 campaign, and Canal Plus will likely choose its own C8 channel to meet the contractual demands of the sport’s owner Liberty Media, L'Equipe reported.
The 23 May Monaco Grand Prix and 27 June French Grand Prix have to be shown FTA in France, with two more races set to get wider exposure.
Elsewhere, TV Band, the Brazilian commercial broadcaster, has signed its first sponsor for Formula 1 coverage, striking a deal with Claro, the telecoms giant.
Claro's agreement covers the two seasons of Band's Formula 1 contract, and it will be one of six 'Master' sponsors of the broadcaster's coverage of the series.
Band has committed to show all 23 races and a variety of support programming this year, as it succeeds Globo, Brazil’s largest commercial broadcaster, which was unable to negotiate an extension with Liberty, thereby ending a relationship that dated back four decades.