Alex Albon ahead of the Turkish GP

DC's take on 2021 season

With the championship that almost never happened approaching its conclusion, the publication of F1's provisional 2021 schedule means race fans now have the prospect of a jam-packed 23-race schedule to look forward to in the new year.

Formula 1's provisional 23-race calendar for 2021

C4F1 caught up with David Coulthard for his quick thoughts on all aspects of the year ahead - not least the prospect of commentating on all that action with someone other than the one and only Ben Edwards...

The news is still sinking in but after five seasons of impeccable stewardship of the C4 lead commentator role, Ben announced this week his decision to step down at the end of this season. 

DC added his own tribute to an extraordinary outpouring of appreciation, gratitude and respect for a consummate pro that Ben's announcement elicited on social media.

"There's no doubt in my mind that Ben is the world champion of broadcasters. Totally professional, fantastic delivery - can add excitement to the opening of a bag of crisps quite frankly.

"I was very disappointed of course when I heard that he would no longer be continuing next year. Life will continue of course but it won't quite be the same without Ben Edwards."

Statement on Ben's decision to step down at the end of the year

Exactly who the lucky person will be sharing commentary duties in 2021 is yet to be announced but what does look certain is that F1 will also be welcoming the WSeries women's racing championship to eight weekends on next year's schedule.

WSeries to feature at eight F1 races in 2021

It's a development DC, with his advisory role with the series, is thrilled by:

"I'm delighted for the support that Formula One has shown and the way the various promoters are really keen to do as much as they can.

"To be in year three - which will be season two - and to be accepted on the Formula 1 undercard shows we are absolutely on the right track to give opportunity to women in motorsport, because the previous system just wasn’t giving enough opportunity."

Within F1 itself, the re-scheduled season has of course been dominated by Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton's relentless re-writing of the record books and DC has nothing but praise for the reigning champ.

"Lewis is box office. He is redefining what can be achieved within the sport. Whenever Lewis retires, he'll be able to do so with the knowledge that he put everything out there and sucked every last opportunity out of his talent.  

"I think he could go on another two or three years or that he could wake up on Monday morning after Abu Dhabi and decide his work is done. I think everything is possible at this point but that he's closer to the end of his career than the beginning!"

With a bumper programme of races provisionally lined up for next season, DC is also bullish about the prospect of a packed calendar.

"23 races means 23 opportunities to have fun as a racing driver. The biggest challenge will not be for the racing drivers, the biggest challenge will be for the engineers, the mechanics, marketing staff and catering staff.

"But the bottom line is, if it's too much for anybody, in Formula 1 like any other career, you can choose not to do it."

DC also has a robust response for those critical of F1's decision to visit Saudi Arabia for the first time in 2021.

"For me, sport should continue to be non-political and about opportunity and about putting the spotlight on the good of various venues we go to rather than just continue to repeat some of the negatives.

"I've been out there for Race of Champions and the breaking of the ground for where the new motorsports facility will be. And there is obviously a growing interest in female empowerment out there in terms of the change that's happened over the last few years for women's rights in the region and their commitment to motorsport longer term."

But as the current season nears completion and before the perspective shifts to next year, DC remains mindful of just what an enormous achievement it has been to stage any races in 2020 at all.

"There are a couple of thousand people involved in the Formula 1 travelling circus - there have been a small number of cases of people within that 2000 that have picked up the virus but they've been identified and isolated in a way that doesn't allow the whole show to grind to a halt.

"If governments operated in the way that Formula 1 has operated, there would be a lot more satisfaction across the board."

There's no doubt that a global pandemic has been an extraordinary backdrop for a motorsport championship. That Hamilton has managed to scale such heights of performance and consistency makes it all the remarkable...

Be sure to join DC and Ben in the commentary box this weekend for all the latest twists as an incredible season approaches its finale.

We'll have highlights of qualifying from the Turkish Grand Prix at 4:30pm on Saturday 14th November with race highlights and analysis from 4:00pm on Sunday.