By James Gamble • 02 December 2022 • 12:40
The Formula 1 race was due to return to the country’s most populous city of Shanghai in April next year for the first time since 2019, in the fourth round of a record 24-race season.
But Chinese President Xi Jinping’s continuing zero-Covid policy, which has seen the country in perpetual lockdowns since the beginning of the pandemic, has caused F1 to decide the race will no longer go ahead.
Protests have engulfed the country in the past week, sparked by the death of ten people in a fire at a 42-storey apartment block last Thursday (November 24).
Rescue efforts at the skyscraper in the city of Urumqi, capital of the western Xinjiang region, were reported to have been slowed due to Covid restrictions imposed in the area.
Chinese television stations broadcasting the FIFA World Cup in Qatar also came under criticism for censoring and removing shots of maskless fans at the event – with the footage adding salt to the wounds of still-restricted residents in China.
In a statement released today, a spokesperson for Formula 1 said: “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.
“Formula 1 is assessing alternative options to replace the slot on the 2023 calendar and will provide an update on this in due course.”
The cancellation of the Chinese Grand Prix, held at the Shanghai International Circuit, reduces next season’s schedule to 23 races – still a record number for F1.
However, talks are underway to replace the cancelled event in Shanghai, with the Portuguese city of Portimão in the southern Algarve region having registered their interest in filling the spot with a Portuguese Grand Prix, which returned to the F1 schedule in both 2020 and 2021.
Meanwhile, the upcoming season will also see the debut of a race on the strip in Las Vegas, in the western state of Nevada in the United States.
Red Bull’s Dutch driver Max Verstappen won his second F1 World Championship title last season.
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