Formula 1 officials have been left scratching their heads after it was confirmed that the COVID-19 situation in China would once again not allow the Chinese Grand Prix to take place in 2023.
“Formula 1 is assessing alternative options to replace the slot on the 2023 calendar and will provide an update on this in due course,” read an official statement from Formula 1.
F1 correspondent Andreas Haupt has spoken about the most likely outcome from Formula 1’s hunt for a China replacement on the calendar, suggesting that it is currently proving a struggle to find a logical option.
“Moving Azerbaijan forward by two weeks is said to have also been discussed in Formula 1 management,” said Haupt.
“But it’s rumoured that there is a high probability that China will be cancelled without replacement.”
Initial rumours suggested that Portimao would return to the calendar in 2023, having served as a substitute race in 2020 during the COVID pandemic, however this now appears unlikely to be the case.
A trip to Portugal straight after Australia seems illogical for Formula 1, especially considering that teams will then have to turn back around to head straight to Baku following the race.
Should the Chinese Grand Prix not be replaced however, it would leave a four-week gap in the 2023 calendar, which would not be ideal considering how packed the 24 race calendar is with double and triple headers during the season.
Some fans have suggested that the only possible solution to the Chinese Grand Prix’s removal from the calendar would be to find a racing venue in Asia to take its place, such as Malaysia.
Vietnam was even supposed to host a race in April 2020, but the COVID pandemic forced Formula 1 to cancel this Grand Prix, which means that there are no shortage of circuits available in Asia, however it is unlikely that such circuits would be able to host a race at such short notice.
With the Chinese Grand Prix now being cancelled two years in a row, Alfa Romeo driver Guanyu Zhou will have to wait another season for the chance to experience a home Grand Prix.