Coronavirus: Formula One postpones the Chinese Grand Prix
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Plans to restore the Chinese Grand Prix in 2023 are set to be scrapped over the country’s no-tolerance policy on Covid-19 infections. Formula 1 was set to return to the Shanghai International Circuit on April 16 next year, having not held a race there in the past three seasons.
China’s strict measures around coronavirus mean the date has been deemed untenable. Namely, the refusal to give F1 staff exemptions, should they test positive for Covid-19 is understood to be the main obstacle to the race going ahead.
It’s reported F1 organisers will not replace the event, but the leftover 23 races will still be an all-time high for the sport. Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton won in Shanghai the last time the Chinese GP was held in 2019.
The Briton is by far the most successful driver in the race’s history with six total wins. Former team-mates Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg are the only other drivers to have won multiple races in China, each boasting two victories apiece.
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Although Formula 1 has yet to confirm the cancellation of the Chinese GP, BBC Sport reported the matter is considered “an inevitability.” Its removal would leave a 28-day gap in the 2023 calendar, with a month separating the Australian GP (April 2) and the next race in Azerbaijan (April 30).
F1 maestros are reportedly seeking a resolution with organisers in Baku to move the Azerbaijan GP forward by one week. However, the request isn’t believed to have been met with a positive response thus far.
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The 2023 campaign will open and close in Asia, with meetings in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia booked for the first two races of the season. Singapore and Japan will stage back-to-back weekends in early October before the campaign is set to once again conclude with the Abu Dhabi GP on November 20.
Hamilton—whose Mercedes contract expires at the end of 2023—may be particularly disappointed to learn one of his most favoured venues will not return to the schedule next year. The 37-year-old said he was pleased to end an underwhelming 2022 season, targeting a 2023 resurgence as he seeks to break Max Verstappen’s two-year grip on the title.
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