F1 confirms Japanese Grand Prix cancellation due to COVID spike

Formula 1 has confirmed that the Japanese Grand Prix has been cancelled at the request of the government, due to ongoing COVID-19 issues.

The race was due to take place on October 10, as the third leg of a triple header after Russia and Turkey.

A decision on whether or not the race would go ahead was expected in August after all parties were able to review how the Olympic Games unfolded in Tokyo.

No further updates have been given on possible changes to the 2021 F1 calendar, which is understood to be very flexible at this stage, with various permutations under consideration.

An F1 statement said: “Following ongoing discussions with the promoter and authorities in Japan the decision has been taken by the Japanese government to cancel the race this season due to ongoing complexities of the pandemic in the country.

“Formula 1 is now working on the details of the revised calendar and will announce the final details in the coming weeks. Formula 1 has proven this year, and in 2020, that we can adapt and find solutions to the ongoing uncertainties and is excited by the level of interest from locations to host Formula 1 events this year and beyond.”

Qatar is one of the new events on standby, while a second race in Bahrain is also a possibility, and if they join Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi that would mean four events being run in the Middle East in the last part of season.

One of the big issues is that Turkey, Mexico and Brazil are all currently on the UK red list, and anyone returning from one of those countries faces a 10-day quarantine in a government-approved hotel.

At the moment F1 does not have an exemption, and thus around 1000 UK-based team, F1, FIA, Pirelli, Honda and media staff members would be impacted by the rule.

The plan was that the trip to Japan would take up a week of the 10-day window after Turkey, and that personnel would remain there for a few extra days before returning to the UK.

It’s understood that it should not assumed that Turkey is now in trouble without the buffer of the Japanese GP, so presumably efforts are underway either to re-jig the calendar so that another race falls after Turkey.

F1 hopes to run two races in Austin, with the second under the Texas GP name. Although the USA is not a red zone for the UK, matters have been complicated due to the city becoming a COVID hot spot, with hospitals reported to be full.

The Suzuka cancellation comes despite F1 promising to impose special conditions on all personnel travelling to Japan, including compulsory use of charter flights from Istanbul with testing on arrival, travel only between hotels and the circuits with no restaurants or shopping, security in each hotel to ensure that people could not leave, and eating only at the circuit in the evenings.

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