China’s return to the Formula 1 calendar will be canceled next year due to the country’s Covid policy, BBC Sport have learned.
Formula 1 has not visited China since 2019 but was due to return for the fourth race in 2023 on April 16.
China’s zero Covid policy has led F1 to conclude the race cannot go ahead.
The main sticking point is that F1 staff would not benefit from exemptions from quarantine requirements in the event of Covid-19 infection.
F1 believes it cannot ask teams to travel to the country for the Shanghai race with the risk of staff being detained for days if they catch coronavirus.
China last rules require anyone found with Covid-19 to spend five days in an isolation center plus three days of home isolation.
F1 chairman and chief executive Stefano Domenicali has yet to officially call off the race, but the decision is seen as inevitable.
F1 declined to comment on the situation.
The sport is not expected to look to replace China with another race, so the calendar will be reduced to 23 races – still an all-time record but one less event than F1 originally planned.
China’s cancellation will leave a four-week gap in the 2023 calendar between the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on April 2 and the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku on April 30.
Domenicali is said to be in talks with authorities in Baku to try to persuade them to bring the race forward by a week to April 23, but is encountering resistance.
If Baku cannot be persuaded to move, it is expected that the gap will not be closed.
F1 is also in talks to extend Azerbaijan’s racing contract, which is due to end next year.
F1 was expected to drop out of the race to make way for other new entrants, such as the planned race at Kyalami in South Africa.
But Azerbaijan, who pay one of the highest fees of any race, are expected to sign a new 10-year deal.
Which races will be sprints?
F1 has refined its analysis of which tracks are best suited to host sprint events – which feature a shorter race on Saturday to establish the grid for the main grand prix – and is set to decide on the six races that will host them. in 2023.
F1 predicts that these will be: Azerbaijan, Austria from June 30 to July 2, Belgium from July 28 to 30, Qatar from October 6 to 8, the United States GP in Austin from 20 to October 22 and Brazil from November 3 to 5. .
F1 had wanted to hold a sprint event in Saudi Arabia, the second race of the season from March 17-19, but Saudi authorities balked at the fee.
However, the idea of a sprint organized during the event in Jeddah has not been ruled out. If talks resume and an agreement is reached, he will likely replace Qatar.
The number of sprint events held will double next year as F1 loves them as they boost revenue and TV audiences.
These events feature a short one-third distance race on Saturday afternoon in place of qualifying. The sprint result decides the grid for the main Grand Prix, with qualifying postponed to Friday to set the sprint grid.
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