It's only January, but the 2021 calendar has already been set for the upcoming F1 season. In any other year that would be unremarkable, but there's still huge uncertainty about whether coronavirus will be sufficiently under control - not only by the time the first round but as the season progresses.

The decision to postpone the Australian Grand Prix had already been taken at the start of January, and the revised calendar has now been released publicly.

So - if nothing changes - the season opener will be the Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain on 28 March, followed by Imola on 18 April. The Australian GP has been moved to 21 November, and there won't be a race in China or Vietnam.

With a record-breaking 23 rounds to cram in, up from 17 in 2020, organisers have clearly tried to sort out the schedule as early as possible and avoid the last-minute decisions of 2020. However, it's pretty likely the pandemic will force some late changes this year as well.

2021 F1 schedule

Here's v2.0 of the 23-race schedule.

Round 1 28 March Sakhir, Bahrain
Round 2 18 April Imola, Italy
Round 3 2 May TBC
Round 4 9 May Barcelona, Spain
Round 5 23 May Monaco
Round 6 6 June Baku, Azerbaijan
Round 7 13 June Montreal, Canada
Round 8 27 June Le Castellet, France
Round 9 4 July Spielberg, Austria
Round 10 18 July Silverstone, UK
Round 11 1 August Budapest, Hungary
Round 12 29 August Spa, Belgium
Round 13 5 September Zandvoort, Netherlands
Round 14 12 September Monza, Italy
Round 15 26 September Sochi, Russia
Round 16 3 October Singapore
Round 17 10 October Suzuka, Japan
Round 18 24 October Austin, USA
Round 19 31 October Mexico City, Mexico
Round 20 7 November Sao Paulo, Brazil
Round 21 21 November Melbourne, Australia
Round 22 5 December Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Round 23 12 December Yas Island, Abu Dhabi

How to watch every F1 race for free in the UK

  • Sky showing live races
  • Extended qualifying, plus highlights on Channel 4 shown 2.5 hours after live race ends

Just when we were worried that F1 was about to become a pay-to-watch sport a reprieve meant fans can still watch - albeit highlights only - on Channel 4 in the UK.

Sky still has the exclusive rights to show live races in the UK, meaning the only coverage on free-to-air TV in the UK will be available on Channel 4.

This arrangement runs until 2024 and until the end of the 2022 season, extended highlights of both qualifying and races can be shown on Channel 4 only two and a half hours after the race ends, instead of the three-hour delay in 2019.

This doesn't mean all broadcasts will be shown this soon, and many were frustrated last year that highlights didn't appear on Channel 4's streaming service - All4 - for hours after the TV broadcast. 

The highlights show lasts 2.5 hours and is allowed to cover 70 percent of the action. The presenting team hasn't yet been announced, but is sure to include David Coulthard, Steve Jones and Mark Webber.  

You can watch Channel 4 on your TV, of course, but you can also watch using the All4 app on your phone or tablet (but not live), or in a web browser via Channel 4's website.

In 2020 the British Grand Prix was shown live on Channel 4, and as part of the current deal, that's also the case this year and next.

How to watch F1 races on Sky and NowTV

If you’re happy to pay a subscription fee so you can watch entire races live, then Sky is the only option in the UK. While Liberty operates an online streaming service – F1 TV Pro – you can’t watch it in the UK because of Sky’s exclusive deal.

Because of coronavirus, sports have all been postponed. But we expect Sky will soon bring back some sort of offer when it restarts in July.

You can get Sky Sports F1 for £18 per month (or £10 per month for 18 months if you're a new customer) on top of your normal Sky package, or Complete Sports (all the sports channels) for £25 per month, again for an 18-month contract.

If you'd rather not sign up to Sky TV because you only want F1 then there is an alternative: you can subscribe via Sky’s streaming service, Now TV. That’s available on your phone, tablet, games consoles, via a web browser and also via a Now TV streaming stick.

It isn't much cheaper though: it's £33.99 per month for the Sky Sports Pass, although there is currently an offer which gets you the first three months for £25 per month.

Can you get F1 TV Pro in the UK?

Annoyingly, no, you can't. In case you didn't know, F1 TV Pro is the official streaming service of Forumla 1 but you can't get it in the UK because of Sky's exclusive deal for live races.

F1 TV Pro is only available the US where it costs $79.99 per year. You can also buy it in a few other countries including the Netherlands where it is €7.99 per month.

In the UK, all you can access is the live timing service which costs £2.29 per month. We don't advise using a VPN to buy the service from the US or Netherlands: it's likely your VPN will be detected and Liberty Media, which runs F1, says your subscription will be terminated with no refund.

When does the Bahrain Grand Prix start in the UK?

The race will be held on Sunday 28 March. It should start at 4.10pm BST, as the clocks go forward at 1am that day.

  • Round 1: Bahrain International Circuit
  • Race start time (BST): 4.10pm TBC
  • Highlights: Channel 4, time TBC

Can I watch F1 online in 2021?

Indeed you can. Coverage is available using the following apps:

Note that you cannot watch live on the All 4 app. Unlike BBC iPlayer, you can't join a live broadcast and you may have to wait hours for the race highlights to appear in the app. That was certainly the case last year, with the programme appearing over four hours after broadcast on some occasions.

Sky

To watch races on Sky you need to subscribe to its TV service. Sky will be broadcasting practice, qualifying and races in Ultra HD, but they're also in HD depending upon your subscription. You can find out more on Sky’s website.

Use the Sky Go app to watch online.

Now TV

As we said above, you can still watch Sky Sports F1 without being a Sky customer as the channel is also available on Now TV. 

This is sky's streaming service, which you can watch via the Now TV Player app on a laptop, PC, Mac, phone or tablet, or Sky's own Now TV Stick which connects to an HDMI input on your TV.

How to watch F1 2019 UK

Is there a way to watch F1 races live for free?

Officially, no. But there is a way. And it's free if you have a satellite dish and receiver which can pick up RTL Germany. That's because F1 races are still shown there on the free-to-air channel. Unless you're fluent in German the commentary isn't going to mean much, but you can get English commentary by tuning into Radio 5 Live (you can use the iPlayer Radio app on your phone if you don't have an actual radio).

If you haven't already got a suitable dish and set-top box, there's little point in investing in one as you'll pay around the same price to watch F1 on Now TV. But it could work out to be cheaper if you plan to watch F1 for the next few years and RTL continues to broadcast it.

How to watch F1 with a VPN

If you're not in the UK when a particular race is shown, you can no longer watch it using the Sky Go app on your phone or tablet because of Brexit.

Similarly, you can't watch highlights on the All 4 app unless you use a VPN with a UK server, such as NordVPN, ExpressVPN and Surfshark.

A VPN makes it appear to Sky or Channel 4 that you're actually in the UK even if you're abroad.

Read our guide to the best VPN services for more information.