Round 17 is now vacant, just like round 21 which previously accounted for the Australian GP, cancelled back in July
By Yuri Coghe
The list of uncertainties surrounding the 12 races left in the proposed record 23-race calendar of the 2021 Formula 1 season just got bigger.
The Japanese Grand Prix, which was scheduled to take place in Suzuka during the Oct. 8-10 weekend, has been cancelled for the second year in a row on Wednesday due to “ongoing complexities of the pandemic in the country.”
The latest setback to the calendar adds a second ‘TBA’ (to be announced) date to the 12 remaining slots. Round 17 is now vacant, just like round 21 which previously accounted for the Australian GP, cancelled back in July.
“Following ongoing discussions with the promoter and authorities in Japan, the decision has been taken by the Japanese government to cancel the race this season due to ongoing complexities of the pandemic in the country,” read a statement issued by Formula 1.
“Formula 1 is now working on the details of the revised calendar and will announce the final details in the coming weeks.
“Formula 1 has proven this year, and in 2020, that we can adapt and find solutions to the ongoing uncertainties and is excited by the level of interest in locations to host Formula 1 events this year and beyond.”
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Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas won the last F1 race held in Japan in 2019. The German team has claimed all Japanese GPs since the introduction of the hybrid era in 2014, with four wins going to Lewis Hamilton and one to 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg.
Japan has hosted the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games from July 23 to Aug. 8 with no fans. The Paralympic Games will also take place with no spectators from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5.
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While F1 is still pushing for the 23-race calendar, the chances of pulling it through – at least without adding more doubleheaders – are slimmer by the day.
Other than the two vacant ‘TBA’ slots, the Turkish GP scheduled for the Oct. 1-3 weekend also represents a big question mark since the British government requires a 10-day hotel quarantine for travellers returning from Turkey.
Flying straight from Turkey to Japan, as it was planned, would serve as a way to bypass the requirement.
The Turkish GP was re-added to the 2021 calendar in late June to replace the Singapore GP after being dropped in mid-May.
Only Austria has held a double-header in the 2021 season so far, with the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg hosting back-to-back race weekends on June 25-27 and July 02-04.