Officials in China are in talks with F1 bosses in a bid to have the forthcoming Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai postponed until later in the year.
Despite the incredibly over-optimistic 23-date schedule confirmed late last year it is looking very much as though the final 2021 schedule will look pretty similar to its predecessor.
At a time we hear that F1 is about to release the first details of a revised calendar, officials in China admit that they are in talks with F1 bosses in a bid to have the race at the Shanghai International Circuit, scheduled for 11 April, postponed until later in the year.
“We have been in contact (with F1) via conference call almost every week,” said Yibin Yang, general manager of race promoter Juss Event, according to Autosport.
“Despite the calendar being in place as usual, I think it’s hugely uncertain the F1 race would take place in the first half of the year, in April,” he admitted.
“We aim to swap it to the second half of the year, and we have formally submitted the request that we hope to move it to the second half of the year.
“To move it to the second half of the year, it depends on the plan of the city government,” he added. “If we put all international events to the second half of the year, it will be over the capacity for the city.”
Last week, Pitpass was told that the season will kick off in Bahrain on 28 March, before moving on to either Portimao or Imola, with China, like Australia postponed until later in the year. Indeed, there is now talk that Portimao could happen on 18 April and Imola getting the 25 April ‘vacant’ slot.
Aston Martin team owner, Lawrence Stroll subsequently confirmed that the season will kick-off in Bahrain, which will also host the pre-season test.
The original 23-date calendar was always a pipe dream, and the continued uncertainty over the virus leaves F1 with no choice but to adapt, and a lot quicker than it did twelve months ago.
Indeed, though China was the source of the virus, and was the first event to be officially postponed, as late as last June, there was talk of Shanghai hosting back-to-back races as the sport sought to put together a revised schedule whilst still focussing on those flyaway events that paid the most in terms of hosting fees.
“FOM asked whether we could host two races in Shanghai in the discussion,” Shanghai‘s Sports Bureau Director, Xu Bin told the Shanghai People’s Radio Station. “It’s not been decided. It will depend on the pandemic situation.
“International sport organisations care a lot about these world-class sport events in China and Shanghai,” he continued. “Despite a lot of changes of our events due to the pandemic, we have received support from international sport organisations and national associations for some of our events.
“We would be allowed to hold the events in Shanghai at a suitable time in the second half of the year, depending on the situation of the pandemic.”
While the first five Grands Prix in Shanghai were held in the latter stages of the year, sometimes as late as mid-October, before being moved to the earlier slot of recent times, seeking to move races to the end of an already busy schedule would cause further pain for the teams, especially in light of the massive overhaul of the regulations scheduled for 2022.