Chinese Grand Prix: Shanghai race dropped from 2022 F1 calendar

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Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel on the podium at the Chinese GP in 2019Lewis Hamilton won the Chinese Grand Prix in 2019

The Chinese Grand Prix has been dropped from next year's Formula 1 calendar.

The Shanghai race has not been held since the coronavirus pandemic began and restrictions surrounding Covid in China mean staging it is impossible.

China will be replaced by the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola on 24 April.

Australia, Canada, Singapore and Japan - none of whose races have yet been held during the pandemic - are back for 2022.

In the past two seasons, all four countries had their races cancelled as a result of their respective national restrictions surrounding Covid-19.

A statement from F1 said that China would be "restored to the calendar as soon as conditions allow".

F1 published a record 23-race calendar for 2022, starting in Bahrain on 20 March and ending in Abu Dhabi on 20 November, with the season crammed into 35 weeks.

The championship will end three weeks earlier than this year's to avoid a clash with the football World Cup in Qatar, which is scheduled to start on 21 November 2022.

And it features the first race in Miami, a blue-riband event that is being held in addition to the US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, with the hope of growing F1's audience in America.

This year, F1 published a 23-race calendar but had to amend it as a number of countries decided they could not hold races during the pandemic.

In the end, 22 races will be held this year, despite the cancellation of the events in Australia, China, Canada, Singapore and Japan.

F1 is confident that the chances of this happening again next year are greatly reduced.

Japan, which has managed to bring Covid back under control after a summer surge that coincided with the Tokyo Olympics, is considered the event most likely to fall if the circumstances surrounding the virus change.

Australia, which has had some of the world's most stringent Covid travel restrictions, has been moved from its traditional slot at the start of the season to become the third race to give it more time to prepare for the grand prix.

F1 president Stefano Domenicali 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."

More 'sprint' race weekends planned

Max Verstappen leads the sprint at SilverstoneF1's new Sprint format made its debut at Silverstone in July

F1 has been discussing with governing body the FIA and the teams the idea of increasing next year the number of events running the new 'sprint' format.

Two of these events, which move qualifying to Friday and have a one-third distance race on Saturday to set the grid for the main grand prix, have already been held this year and a third is scheduled for the Brazilian event next month.

F1 and the teams met at the F1 Commission meeting on Wednesday and discussed the idea of having six 'sprint' events next year.

However, discussions are ongoing and debate centres around the sport's budget cap.

Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari argue that the sprint events are expensive, because they feature two races rather than one, and are pushing for the budget cap to remain at this year's level of $145m (£114m) if there are to be six sprint events, rather than reduce it to $140m as planned.

Other teams are not happy about the idea of keeping the budget cap at this year's level and a compromise has not yet been reached.

It has not been decided which races will hold the sprint events in 2022, but F1 is working towards a plan whereby there is a mix of historic events, such as Silverstone, and the higher-paying new tracks, such as those in the Middle East.

There have also been discussions about increasing the number of points awarded in the 'sprint' race on Saturday, and reversing the decision to award pole position to the winner of the 'sprint' race rather than the driver who sets the fastest time in qualifying.

Expected 2022 F1 calendar

20 March Bahrain (Sakhir)

27 March Saudi Arabia (Jeddah)

10 April Australia (Melbourne)

24 April Emilia Romagna (Imola)

8 May Miami

22 May Spain (Barcelona)

29 May Monaco

12 June Azerbaijan (Baku)

19 June Canada (Montreal)

3 July Great Britain (Silverstone)

10 July Austria (Spielberg)

24 July France (Le Castellet)

31 July Hungary (Budapest)

28 August Belgium (Spa-Francorchamps)

4 September Netherlands (Zandvoort)

11 September Italy (Monza)

25 September Russia (Sochi)

2 October Singapore (Marina Bay)

9 October Japan (Suzuka)

23 October USA (Austin)

30 October Mexico (Mexico City)

13 November Brazil (Sao Paulo)

20 November Abu Dhabi (Yas Marina)

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