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Motor racing - 18 Oct 2021
Formula 1, the top-tier motor racing series, has announced a record 23-race calendar for its 2022 season and confirmed that China will be absent for a third consecutive year.
The season will get underway on 20 March in Bahrain and conclude on 20 November with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
As was rumoured late last week following the presentation of the calendar to the F1 Commission on Wednesday (13 October), ongoing challenges and restrictions related to Covid-19 have meant the series looking to Imola in Italy again as a more bankable destination where China would usually feature.
However, in its announcement, F1 promised: “China will be restored to the calendar as soon as conditions allow.”
Australia, Singapore, Canada and Japan, meanwhile, all return to the race calendar having been absent for the past two seasons.
Of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic more broadly, it noted that the 2021 season had shown the sport’s ability to adapt to the challenges involved and, looking forward, said: “While we hope the virus recedes further in the coming months, for everyone around the world, we will continue to closely monitor the situation and work closely with the promoters and national authorities.”
Among the other notable takeaways from the calendar is the inclusion of the inaugural Miami Grand Prix on the weekend of 6 to 8 May, which will see F1 visit the US twice in a season for the first time since 1984.
A 10-year deal for a Miami race was agreed in April this year after protracted negotiations between the city and Formula 1 owner Liberty Media that had initially seen a deal agreed in principle in 2019.
Liberty has been keen to build on the sport’s presence in the US market since it acquired the series in 2017.
Zandvoort in the Netherlands returns after staging a race this season for the first time since 1985, while Sochi will host its last Russian Grand Prix before that moves to St Petersburg’s Igora Drive circuit in 2023.
Despite stepping in late to fill a gap in the 2021 calendar and agreeing a 10-year race deal, Qatar is not on the 2022 schedule, with its deal commencing from the 2023 season.
The iconic Monaco Grand Prix, meanwhile, will see its traditional four-day race weekend reduced to three days in line with the rest of the calendar “in part to help with logistics for the teams”.
Stefano Domenicali, president and chief executive of F1, said: “This season has been incredible so far with great battles on the track, large audiences tuning in and fans returning to the races after the impact of the pandemic. 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.
“We are very pleased with the interest in Formula 1 from places that want to host races and the growth of the sport and believe we have a fantastic calendar for 2022 with destinations like Miami joining famous and historic venues. The pandemic is still with us, and we will therefore continue to be vigilant and safe – to protect all our personnel and the communities we visit.”
Jean Todt, president of the FIA, added: “Over the past two years, F1 has shown remarkable resilience. This is clearly demonstrated by the continued growth of the sport despite the important challenges of the pandemic.”