Chinese Grand Prix dropped from Formula 1 calendar
The Chinese Grand Prix has been dropped from next year’s Formula 1 calendar.
The Shanghai race has not been held since the coronavirus pandemic began and restrictions surrounding COVID in China mean staging it is impossible.
China will be replaced by the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola on 24 April.
Australia, Canada, Singapore and Japan – none of whose races have yet been held during the pandemic – are back for 2022.
In the past two seasons, all four countries had their races cancelled as a result of their respective national restrictions surrounding COVID-19.
A statement from F1 said that China would be “restored to the calendar as soon as conditions allow”.
F1 published a record 23-race calendar for 2022, starting in Bahrain on 20 March and ending in Abu Dhabi on 20 November, with the season crammed into 35 weeks.
The championship will end three weeks earlier than this year’s to avoid a clash with the football World Cup in Qatar, which is scheduled to start on November 21, 2022.
And it features the first race in Miami, a blue-riband event that is being held in addition to the US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, with the hope of growing F1’s audience in America.
This year, F1 published a 23-race calendar but had to amend it as a number of countries decided they could not hold races during the pandemic.
In the end, 22 races will be held this year, despite the cancellation of the events in Australia, China, Canada, Singapore and Japan.
F1 is confident that the chances of this happening again next year are greatly reduced.
Japan, which has managed to bring COVID back under control after a summer surge that coincided with the Tokyo Olympics, is considered the event most likely to fall if the circumstances surrounding the virus change.
Australia, which has had some of the world’s most stringent COVID travel restrictions, has been moved from its traditional slot at the start of the season to become the third race to give it more time to prepare for the grand prix.
F1 president Stefano Domenicali said: “This season has been incredible so far with great battles on the track, large audiences tuning in and fans returning to the races after the impact of the pandemic.
“We look forward to welcoming more fans back next season and hope 2022 feels more normal than the life we have all experienced in the past two years.
“We are very pleased with the interest in Formula 1 from places that want to host races and the growth of the sport, and believe we have a fantastic calendar for 2022 with destinations like Miami joining famous and historic venues.
“The pandemic is still with us, and we will therefore continue to be vigilant and safe – to protect all our personnel and the communities we visit.” (BBC)