Scene of Max Verstappen controversy set to return to 2023 calendar

Formula 1 recently confirmed that the 2023 Chinese Grand Prix won't go ahead due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This week brought bad news for Guanyu Zhou, who for the second year running will not have the opportunity to race in his home country, as once again concerns about COVID-19 will prevent Formula 1 from travelling to China.

The Chinese Grand Prix has not taken place since 2019, with the COVID pandemic hitting the country hard, leading to difficulties in making China a safe place to travel to without the risk of spreading COVID-19.

“Formula 1 can confirm, following dialogue with the promoter and relevant authorities, that the 2023 Chinese Grand Prix will not take place due to the ongoing difficulties presented by the COVID-19 situation,” read an official statement from Formula 1.

“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: Formula 1 urged to race in Turkey or run two Brazil GPs in 2023

Rumours regarding the Grand Prix’s replacement have run wild since the statement’s release, with some fans calling for the return of a German Grand Prix, while others hope to see the return of a race in Turkey.

The most likely option however now seems to be the Portuguese Grand Prix in Portimao, a track that featured on the 2020 and 2021 calendars after a 24-year absence from the sport.

The changes in elevation around Portimao make for entertaining viewing and the drivers also claim to enjoy racing around the circuit, meaning that a return to Portugal would be an appealing option for Formula 1.

“Portugal back on the F1 route. Decision imminent – Portimao should replace China on the 2023 calendar,” Tweeted Portuguese motorsport commentator Joao Carlos Costa earlier this week.

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“Small details are still to be resolved before the FIA World Council, scheduled for December 9 in Bologna. Portuguese fans, what a Christmas present.”

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The 2020 edition of the race was not on the original calendar, but “project restart” following the COVID-19 enforced break resulted in tracks such as Vietnam having to be replaced, with Portimao being the chosen substitute.

During the 2020 race weekend, Max Verstappen found himself in hot water after he called Lance Stroll a “mongol” over the radio.

The fact that the Grand Prix in Portugal has previously been successfully arranged as a substitute race and short notice makes it the obvious candidate to replace China in 2023, with it being highly likely that the powers that be in F1 would be able to strike a deal to see a race in Portugal next season.

With no Portuguese drivers on the grid, no one will benefit from Guanyu Zhou’s pain, however the Chinese driver will hope that 2024 will present him with the opportunity of a home Grand Prix, providing the COVID situation is better off in a year’s time.