Why was the 2023 F1 Chinese GP canceled?

China last hosted F1 World Championship race in 2019,before the Covid-19 pandemic broke out.


Why was the 2023 F1 Chinese GP canceled?

Chinese Grand Prix, 2019 (Credits: Reuters)

There is a notable four-week gap in the 2023 Formula 1 calendar between the third and fourth races, and it is not due to the summer break hitting the sport early. Instead, the Chinese Grand Prix, which was originally scheduled for April 16th, has been canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions in the Asian country.

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The cancellation marks the fourth year in a row that the Chinese Grand Prix has been canceled, and it has raised concerns about the future of the event. The Shanghai International Circuit has been a regular fixture on the F1 calendar since 2004. It is a popular race among fans, but ongoing Covid-19 restrictions have made it impossible to hold the event safely. Dive in to know everything behind the cancellation of the Chinese Grand Prix.

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What is the reason behind F1’s cancellation of the Chinese Grand Prix?

Shanghai International Circuit, bird's eye view
Shanghai International Circuit, bird’s eye view (Credits: Daily Sabah)

F1 was poised to return to China after three years away. Still, because to China’s ‘zero- COVID policy,’ the sport missed yet another visit to the Shanghai International Circuit for the fourth time. The country’s severe zero-Covid policy, which includes tight restrictions and lockdowns, has rendered the event impossible to hold.

The zero-COVID policy in China is a plan to keep COVID-19 instances as low as feasible. China has performed widespread testing, isolated the ill in government institutions, and imposed draconian lockdowns that may span entire cities to achieve this. Since the outbreak of the epidemic, President Xi Jinping has made this a trademark policy. During the initial outbreak of the virus in 2019, China stunned the globe by locking down the whole city of Wuhan, restricting more than 11 million citizens to their homes.

Why wasn’t the Chinese Grand Prix replaced?

Turkish Grand Prix, 2021
Turkish Grand Prix, 2021 (Credits: Autosport)

When the event was canceled for the fourth year in December 2022, China had some of the strictest pandemic-related regulations of any country. F1 had explored the possibility of replacing the Chinese Grand Prix with another event, with talks held with promoters in Turkey’s Istanbul and Portugal’s Portimao. 

However, both parties could not convince a deal with F1, so it was ultimately decided to proceed with a 23-race season and leave a four-week gap between the third and fourth rounds. These two races have subbed in for the canceled races in 2020 and 2021, with Portimao, in particular, replacing the Chinese GP in both instances. 

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Who won the last Chinese Grand Prix?

Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel 2019 podium
Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel 2019 Chinese GP podium (Credits: ichef.bbci.co.uk)

F1 last raced in China in 2019, and it was a historic day for the sport as it was the 1000th race in the sport’s history. Valtteri Bottas won the pole for the 1000th race by 0.02 seconds over his former teammate Lewis Hamilton. The race was popularly known as the ‘F1000.’ 

As the race approached on Sunday, the fans and the drivers were ecstatic. With a stronger start off the line, Lewis Hamilton seized the lead from his teammate into the first turn. Since then, the Briton has been in no man’s land well ahead, with his nearest challenger, his teammate, in second, about 4 seconds behind him. Mercedes utterly dominated the race, and no team could even offer a challenge to the German outfit. Hamilton went on to win his 75th career race when he crossed the finish line and closed the deficit on his teammate in the standings. 

The omission of the Chinese Grand Prix from the 2023 calendar would have financial consequences for F1 since China is one of the sport’s most important markets in terms of TV viewership and sponsorship. The decision to cancel the race was taken to preserve the safety of all participants, including drivers, teams, and spectators. The new Las Vegas Grand Prix will be the season finale, and it is hoped that the Chinese Grand Prix may return to the calendar in the future, as the track is under contract through the 2025 season. 

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