Formula 1 has decided not to replace the canceled Chinese Grand Prix, leaving the 2023 season with just 23 races in total.
The 2023 calendar initially included 24 races, with the Chinese GP originally slated to take place on April 16. It was set to be the fourth round of the championship, two weeks after the Australian GP, and two weeks before the series headed to Azerbaijan. The race was canceled in early December, as the event was deemed incompatible with China's strict COVID-19 restrictions.
F1 initially hunted for a suitable replacement for the race. Turkey and Portugal were both floated as likely contenders, having filled in for other canceled races in recent years. There was also speculation that the Chinese GP could be reinstated as the country backflipped on its zero-COVID policy. However, these efforts ultimately came to naught. The Chinese GP has been canceled every year since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, now for four years running.
Formula 1 cars looked quite different the last time the Chinese GP took place. AP Images
While the loss of the race is a disappointment for the fans, it's not all bad news. F1 will still run 23 races, more than any previous season. The loss of the Chinese GP will leave a four-week gap in the calendar, allowing team personnel to take a much-needed break in a season that's now more hectic than ever. The packed schedule still includes two double-headers and two triple-headers—where races run three consecutive weeks in a row.
Regardless of the headaches, F1 continues to push for a bigger calendar every year. Much of the expansion has been in the US, where the sport has taken off in part due to Netflix's adored Drive to Survive series. Three races now take place on US soil. The US GP takes place in Austin, Texas, with the Miami GP added in 2022. 2023 will see the addition of the Las Vegas GP, which ultimately hopes to be more successful than the podunk Caesar's Palace GP run in the 1980s.
It will be strange to have an F1 season with a huge break right after it's just gotten started. However, there's always the potential for more drama with the big gap. For teams that start the season on the wrong foot, that four weeks could just be the development time needed to get them back in contention early in the piece. Expect fan enthusiasm to dip during the lull, only to roar back into flame when the season picks up again in earnest.
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