Start, Autodromo do Algarve, 2021

Where could F1 race if it replaces the cancelled Chinese Grand Prix?

2023 F1 season

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The most surprising thing about the cancellation of the Chinese Grand Prix is that it was ever on 2023 Formula 1 calendar to begin with.

Before next year’s record-breaking 24-race schedule was announced, F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali indicated a decision on the return of China’s race would not take place until after October, when the ruling Communist Party’s National Congress would take place.

At the time many outside China wondered whether the party’s president and China’s leader Xi Jinping would use the occasion to announce an easing of the country’s strict ‘zero Covid’ polices, under which it continues to impose lockdowns in response to outbreaks. He did not, and the country is now struggling to keep a lid on protests against the severe measures which have lasted for three years.

The cancellation of F1’s 2023 race in Shanghai was therefore widely expected. China’s only F1 driver, Zhou Guanyu, told RaceFans last month he had doubts the race would go ahead once he learned it had been given an April date. Shunting it later in the season would have widened the window to make it happen, but that end of the calendar is so congested there’s little room for manoeuvre.

Start, Istanbul Park, 2020
Istanbul returned to the F1 calendar in 2020
Others plainly drew the same conclusion and F1 has already begun assessing alternative venues which could take China’s place. But finding a viable option for the April 16th date may be tricky.

Portugal’s Autodromo do Algarve was one of the first tracks to be named as a potential venue. It was one of a clutch of venues which was pressed into service at short notice when the pandemic struck in 2020. F1 returned to the track outside Portimao for a race on May 2nd last year in soggy, cool conditions. A mid-April return could be viable.

The same could also apply to the Paul Ricard circuit which was dropped from the calendar after this year’s race. F1 has visited the circuit in the south of France this early in the season before: Its 1983 race was held on April 17th.

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Another track which was added to the calendar due to Covid may be an option. Like Algarve, Istanbul Park in Turkey was resurfaced for F1’s return in 2020 and hosted the series again in 2021. But it’s never held a grand prix earlier than May, and average temperatures in the area are a little cooler than the French and Portuguese tracks, which may prove off-putting.

Lando Norris, McLaren, Paul Ricard, 2022
Paul Ricard has held an April race before
The other two venues also have the advantage of being closer to teams’ bases and therefore are easier to travel to. The viability of other venues will depend on how eager F1 is to restore its 24th round – 23 races will still be a record-breaking schedule – and whether it would prefer to make the saving on travel instead.

One neater solution might be to add a race as a return stop after the Australian Grand Prix on April 2nd. But a suitable venue would need to be found. Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit seems a viable option, but the venue has cooled on F1 since holding its last race in 2017.

South Africa was a candidate for a race on the 2023 calendar and the continent remains a target for F1. But even if the other obstacles to returning to a track which held its last race three decades ago were removed, Kyalami would be a more challenging venue to incorporate within the calendar than nearer options.

Each possibility involves some compromises. But there remains the possibility F1 won’t choose any of them. If it embarks upon next season without a replacement the series will have a four-week gap between the championship’s rounds in Australia and Azerbaijan: a ‘spring break’ to go along with the summer and winter hiatus. Given the packed schedule which follows it, many teams might welcome that.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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29 comments on “Where could F1 race if it replaces the cancelled Chinese Grand Prix?”

  1. I think Paul Ricard seems like a fairly safe bet. They should move the Chinese GP to later in the season next year so that when it gets cancelled, there are more options available to replace it.

    1. @petebaldwin From what I’ve read, Algarve seems the most likely replacement option.

    2. To me the most obvious thing would be to just have one round less on an already far too bloated calendar @petebaldwin, @jerejj, but I would be happy to see the Algarve track make another appearance on the calendar instead.

      1. @bascb – I’d definitely prefer Algarve to PR. As you say, no replacement would be ideal but I doubt Liberty will be too keen on that when they can make more money by replacing it….

      2. Bring argentina in f1

    3. I think Paul Ricard seems like a fairly safe bet.

      I think a Milton Keynes street circuit would be more interesting, with a combination of Watling Street and the A5 you could take in stunning views of Primark, Toolstation, IKEA and TK Maxx

  2. Sepang International Circuit seems a viable option

    Let’s not. Boy, did they make that track worse with their “renovation”.

    1. Still better than a lot of others.

      Regardless, Malaysia simply doesn’t have the money for F1.

  3. Sepang is unlikely to be any more viable than for other substitution purposes in this decade thus far & Istanbul Park seems unviable for another one-off appearance, as evidenced by not replacing the Russian GP. Besides, monthly temps are more or less equal in Istanbul & Southern Europe, so in this regard, a non-issue.
    Algarve seems the safest bet if any substitution happens in the end.

  4. We do not need a replacement. Let’s just start the year knowing a fully confirmed calendar for the 1st time in 3 years, rather than leaving teams, staff and fans hanging around on ifs and buts.

    1. That’s how I feel about it too but i think Liberty isn’t going to want to give up on 24 races yet again. Portimao it will be.

  5. Easy choice for Liberty. Let’s have a fourth race in the USA. Maybe Hawaii this time ?

    1. Mauna Loa is ahead of you– resurfacing has already begun!

  6. Afghanistan or Iran.
    Let’s do more to include religiously fanatical and hate fuelled regimes in the calendar.

    1. We could also see if maybe Putin might be interested in bringing Sochi back, right @nullapax ;-)

      1. Absolutely.

        Things haven’t been going well for poor old Vladimir just recently have they.
        He would probably jump at the chance of watching a race to take his mind off the fact that the world is laughing at him and his pretensions just now.

  7. Are there no viable circuits in Ukraine?

    1. Are there no viable circuits in Ukraine?

      Someone suggested a street circuit in Sevastopol, but apparently they have a major problem with squatters.

    2. José Lopes da Silva
      3rd December 2022, 13:43

      There are two good circuits in the outskirts of Kiev and Kharkiv. We recently watched two major races there. The drivers were flying low. Some of them were flying a little higher.

  8. Algarve please. Absolutely love Portimao.

  9. Portimao or Istanbul Park would do for me. 2020 wasn’t a huge amount of fun but having those two, and Mugello, was a pleasant respite.

  10. The racetrack in Vietnam was supposed to have been completed, but I don’t think it has ever been used.

    1. Good point.
      I can,t remember where but I think I saw a recent article saying it had fallen into disrepair.
      What it would take to get it back up to “speed” both timewise and financially I guess would be an issue.
      But I like the idea.

        1. @jjohn Thanks. It seems the will to stage such an event is gone. I’m sort of not surprised at the price charged to stage a Grand prix ($60M), but I guess that’s an issue for F1 management to figure out.

  11. Pyongyang would be a decent substitute for Shanghai and a natural fit following the additions of Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

  12. Watkins Glenn. Ithaca is gorges!

  13. playstation361
    6th December 2022, 3:00

    Prestigious goods from the derived satisfaction.

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