Saturday, 04 December 2021 11:20 GMT

Chinese GP off F1 calendar for third year in a row


(MENAFN- The Peninsula) Reuters

LONDON  - Formula One will have a record 23 races next season but the Chinese Grand Prix has been dropped for the third year in a row due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Races in Australia, Singapore, Canada and Japan -- all cancelled for the past two seasons -- were included on a calendar published on Friday.

"Due to ongoing pandemic conditions, China will not be included on the 2022 calendar. China will be restored to the calendar as soon as conditions allow," Formula One said.

The 2022 season marks the start of a new era, with major rule changes, and opens at Bahrain's Sakhir circuit on March 20.

It ends some 35 weeks later at Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina on Nov. 20, the championship's earliest finish since 2010.

Formula One is keen to avoid any regional clash with the soccer World Cup which kicks off in Qatar in late November.

Australia's race in Melbourne, the season-opener in recent years, has been scheduled for April 10 as the third round to allow more time for an easing of the country's travel restrictions.

"Now more than ever we need major international events, like the Australian Grand Prix, to not only help our economy recover but to put a spring back in our step," said Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO Andrew Westacott.

The Miami Grand Prix on May 8 is new for 2022, providing a second round in the United States. It remains subject to approval of the circuit, which runs around the city's Hard Rock Stadium -- the home of the Dolphins NFL team.

The U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, is on Oct. 23 subject to a new contract being agreed.

Singapore's night race on Oct. 2 was also subject to contract, along with Italy's Imola and Spain's Circuit de Catalunya outside Barcelona.

This year was supposed to have 23 races as well but has ended up with 22, using Turkey's Istanbul Park and Portugal's Portimao circuits as stand-ins to fill gaps left by cancellations while Saudi Arabia and Qatar debut.

The 2020 season had only 17 races.

'CLOSER RACING'

Around a third of the races next year are expected to be under a new Sprint format trialled this year at Silverstone and Monza, with a third to come at Interlagos in Brazil next month.

"We are excited to announce the 2022 calendar as we prepare to enter a new era for the sport with brand new regulations and cars for next year that are designed to create closer racing," said Formula One chief executive Stefano Domenicali.

"We look forward to welcoming more fans back next season and hope 2022 feels more normal than the life we have all experienced in the past two years."

The 2022 calendar will feature seven back-to-back pairs of races and two triple-headers.

Britain's Lewis Hamilton could be a record eight times world champion by then, with the Mercedes driver battling Red Bull's Max Verstappen for this year's title.

Dutch youngster Verstappen is six points clear with six races remaining this season. (Repo

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