Why did Formula 1 cancel an upcoming Grand Prix?

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Chinese Grand Prix, Formula 1 (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Chinese Grand Prix, Formula 1 (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) /

Formula 1 has an annual “summer break”, but the 2023 season also features a four-week “spring break” as a result of a canceled race.

Following this past Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park Circuit, there are no more Formula 1 races on the schedule for another four weeks.

The 2023 season’s fourth race is the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, which is scheduled to take place at Baku City Circuit on Sunday, April 30 (7:00 a.m. ET, ESPN).

Formula 1 generally has a four-week “summer break”, usually running from the end of July/start of August to the end of August/start of September, but this year, there is somewhat of a “spring break” as well.

It is highly unusual for Formula 1 to go more than one week — in rare cases, more than two — without any races, especially this early in the season.

And that wasn’t initially supposed to be the case during the 2023 Formula 1 season.

The 2023 schedule was initially slated to feature a record-breaking 24 races. But over the offseason, that number was reduced to 23, which is still an all-time record, as a result of the cancelation of the Chinese Grand Prix.

This year’s Chinese Grand Prix was to have taken place at Shanghai International Circuit on Sunday, April 16, but it was canceled in January due to “the ongoing difficulties presented by the COVID-19 situation”.

The 16-turn, 3.388-mile (5.452-kilometer) Jiading road course has not hosted a race since 2019. Its cancelation has become somewhat of an annual occurrence, as it was axed from the calendar for the same reason, though far more obvious at the time, in 2020, 2021, and 2022. The Chinese Grand Prix remains under contract for 2024.

No replacement race was added for 2023, and no other schedule changes were made. There is just one race not on the 2023 calendar that was present in 2022, that being the French Grand Prix at Circuit Paul Ricard.

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The 2022 season consisted of 22 races, meaning that with the loss of the French Grand Prix in 2023, there are two races on this year’s 23-race schedule that weren’t on last year’s: the Qatar Grand Prix at Losail International Raceway on Sunday, October 8, and the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix at Las Vegas Street Circuit on Saturday, November 18.