The Chinese Grand Prix may disappear from the Formula 1 calendar for the third year in a row, presenting an opportunity for both Imola and Paul Ricard to hold races in 2022.Shanghai International Circuit have expressed concerns they will be unable to accommodate a world championship round in April next year due to ongoing restrictions in the country arising from the pandemic.
The Covid-19 outbreak began in China at the end of 2019. The country’s round of the world championship was the first to be cancelled that year and it was also dropped from the 2021 schedule, along with several other races, due to the pandemic.
Efforts to find an alternative to China’s usual April date on the 2022 F1 calendar have been unsuccessful. The possibility of delaying the round to July was considered but dismissed as impractical.
From its first race in 2004 until 2008, the Chinese round was held towards at the end of the year. Holding the race that late in next year’s season is thought to have been ruled out due to the increased number of races on the schedule and a desire by F1 to end the championship before the FIFA football World Cup begins at the end of November.
Imola, which was in the running to replace Paul Ricard on next year’s calendar, is expected to take over the slot vacated by China. The Italian circuit returned to the F1 schedule last year and held the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix again in April.
It was believed to be in competition with Paul Ricard, home of the French Grand Prix, for a race in July next year. However with Imola’s race set to go ahead in April, Paul Ricard will remain on the calendar.
Rather than form a triple-header with the British and Austrian races, France’s round is expected to be held on July 24th, one week before the Hungarian Grand Prix, which is followed by the summer break.
Singapore’s round, which has been absent from the last two schedules due to the pandemic, is also believed to have secured a return to the calendar in its usual September slot. That means F1 is unlikely to return to Istanbul Park, scene of today’s race, next year.
Next year’s F1 calendar is expected to be presented later this week.
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