Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 24 November 2020

Vietnamese Grand Prix to be left off 2021 Formula One calendar

The calendar could extend to 23 Grands Prix - a new record - if F1 bosses can find a replacement for Vietnam

In this file photo taken on March 10, 2020, a worker, wearing a facemask amid concerns of the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak, walks past hoarding at the Formula One Vietnam Grand Prix race track site in Hanoi. AFP
In this file photo taken on March 10, 2020, a worker, wearing a facemask amid concerns of the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak, walks past hoarding at the Formula One Vietnam Grand Prix race track site in Hanoi. AFP

Vietnam's first Formula One Grand Prix in Hanoi, cancelled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, has been dropped from next year's calendar, following the arrest of a key officials responsible for organising the race.

The BBC said the move followed the arrest in August of Hanoi People's Committee chairman Nguyen Duc Chung. A source with knowledge of next year's calendar confirmed to Reuters that the race was not listed.

Chung was arrested in August for alleged appropriation of documents containing state secrets.

The case is not related to his involvement in the grand prix.

However, Chung was the key figure in the race being introduced and championed it with the national government.

Formula One said the draft schedule would be issued on Tuesday.

The calendar will still have to be approved by the governing FIA's World Motor Sport Council, usually a formality, and will include at least one new race with a stop off in Jeddah for the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in November. It is expected to be the penultimate race of the year, with the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix bringing the curtain down on 2021.

The calendar could extend to 23 Grands Prix - a new record - if F1 bosses can find a replacement for Vietnam.

The return of some of the circuits used this year to patch gaps left by cancellations due to the pandemic.

Portugal's Algarve circuit, Imola in Italy and Turkey's Istanbul track would be the leading contenders to take Vietnam's April 25 slot.

Brazil is also set to remain on the calendar, despite earlier doubts, with South America's only race returning to Sao Paulo's Interlagos circuit in November rather than one yet to be built in Rio de Janeiro.

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The Rio circuit is controversial for environmental reasons and work has yet to start on it.

The calendar will otherwise see the return of races cancelled this year, including the Dutch circuit of Zandvoort which last hosted a race in 1985 and would follow on from Belgium's Spa in September.

The season is set to start with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 21.

Formula One is hoping to allow fans back at circuits after racing this year behind closed doors or with very limited attendance.

Updated: November 10, 2020 10:14 AM

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