Japanese F1 Grand Prix cancelled due to ‘ongoing complexities’ of pandemic

October 10 race at Suzuka cancelled for a second year in a row due to rise in Covid-19 cases

SUZUKA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 06: Sebastian Vettel of Germany driving the (5) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H on track during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on October 6, 2017 in Suzuka.  (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

This year's Japanese Formula One Grand Prix has been cancelled for a second year due to the ongoing coronavirus situation in the country.

The race at Suzuka was set for October 10, months after the capital, Tokyo, had successfully hosted the delayed 2020 Olympic Games, but will now not take place following discussions with Formula One and the Japanese government.

It is the second year in a row that the race has not taken place because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The 2019 race was disrupted by Typhoon Hagibis.

The cancellation leaves the F1 calendar facing a further reshuffle after races in Australia, China, Canada and Singapore were all called off this season. The Turkish Grand Prix was initially cancelled but later reinstated. Japan was due to be the 17th of 23 rounds in this season's circuit.

An F1 statement read: “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 One is now working on the details of the revised calendar and will announce the final details in the coming weeks.

“Formula One 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 in locations to host Formula One events this year and beyond.”

The season continues with the Belgian Grand Prix on August 29, the first event of a triple header in Europe which also includes the returning Dutch GP at Zandvoort and then the Italian GP at Monza. Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton holds a narrow eight-point lead over Red Bull's Max Verstappen in the driver standings.

The cancellation of November's Australian GP last month meant there was already one slot free on the schedule.

The cancellations of Australia and Japan mean only 10 of the remaining events are currently confirmed.

A finalised 2021 calendar is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

According to motorsport.com, Qatar is one of the new events on standby to replace Japan, while a second race in Bahrain is also a possibility. Should one of those be added it would mean four events being run in the Middle East in the last part of season. Saudi Arabia holds its inaugural grand prix on December 5 with Abu Dhabi hosting the final race of the season on December 12.

One of the biggest issues for F1 to resolve 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.

That would impact hundreds of employees of teams and F1 personnel all based in the UK following the Turkish Grand Prix on October 3.

The Japanese race would have taken up a week of the 10-day window after the Turkish GP, and that personnel would remain there for a few extra days before returning to the UK.

The figure-of-eight Suzuka layout is one of the drivers' favourite, the track is also owned by Honda - engine suppliers of championship-contending Red Bull.

The Japanese manufacturer is leaving F1 at the end of this season and had hoped to enjoy one final race weekend at their own circuit, where Red Bull would inevitably have been in the hunt for victory with title rivals Mercedes.

"At Honda, we are particularly disappointed, because this is the final year of our Formula 1 project and we know that so many fans were looking forward to attending the event," said Koji Watanabe, Honda's chief officer for brand and communication operations

"The 2021 season is now heading for an exciting climax and we will be giving our all, fighting hard all the way to achieve our goal of winning the championships as this Honda Formula 1 project comes to an end and we hope our fans will continue to support us."

Updated: August 18th 2021, 3:15 PM
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