Following the widely publicised assumption that the Australian Grand Prix will be postponed, questions undoubtedly arise over other Grand Prix planned for the 2021 Formula One Season. Many media outlets have been making a prediction that the Chinese Grand Prix will be cancelled - albeit without giving much evidence as to why. Today, we present information indicating why we regretfully feel that the Chinese Grand Prix will be cancelled for a second year running.
Despite the fact that the Chinese Grand Prix is scheduled on the calendar for April 11th2021, due to the current global situation caused by the impact of COVID-19, there is a very realistic chance that this shall not come to pass.
As with any global sport, publicity and advertising is key and as of this article being published there are no signs of tickets being sold for the Chinese Grand Prix – which is now just 3 months away. Therefore, the assumption can be made that any Grand Prix to be held in China would be one behind closed doors - without fans.
Following this line of enquiry, if fans are not in attendance the next question is whether the risk of running the Grand Prix weekend would be worth it in the first place.
At present, following new reports of community transmitted mutated strains of COVID-19 being reported globally, China has very strict quarantine procedures in place. Beijing announced at the end of December 2020 that it would extend the quarantine period for overseas arrivals from 14 to 21 days. Now, more and more cities across China have started to adopt the new 14+7 policy. This new period has been implemented following news that overseas arrivals have been testing positive in China - even after a 14-day quarantine has been completed.
The rules in place in different administrative regions throughout China include:
- All overseas arrivals will be quarantined in centralized isolation for 14 days.
- Arrivals will be tested for COVID-19 a total of four times, a nucleic acid test being performed on the first, seventh, 14th – and then again on the 21st day after entry.
- For those entering from countries and regions where new variant viruses have been discovered, such as the UK, nucleic acid tests will be performed a total of five times: on the first, fourth, seventh, 14th and 21st day.
The list goes on but this final point above is a strong indication as to why there is a very realistic chance of a Chinese Grand Prix cancellation.
As previously reported on motorsport.com:
“The emergence of a new strain of COVID-19 has led to soaring cases numbers in the UK - where seven of F1's 10 teams are based - and prompted a clampdown from many countries on flights to and from Great Britain.”
As a result of this, anyone entering China for the Grand Prix would have to no doubt quarantine for a considerable length of time. Therefore, the question will surely rise with Formula One Management (FOM) that even if they could put all provisions in place and make a case that they can create the infamous bubble – is it worth it in the bigger scheme of the season and does the schedule allow such length of quarantining? The answer would most likely be no.
The next question posed would then be – if the Chinese Grand Prix does not happen in April can it be scheduled later in the year?
Unfortunately, as a result of the Australian Grand Prix supposedly hoping to be rescheduled for later in the year, it makes finding a slot in the schedule challenging indeed. So much so that motorsport website the-race.com has already published their thoughts on what they think the 2021 F1 season will actually look like.
March 28: Bahrain April 18: Imola May 2: Portimao
May 9: Barcelona May 23: Monaco June 6: Baku
June 13: Montreal June 27: Paul Ricard July 4: Red Bull Ring
July 18: Silverstone August 1: Hungaroring August 29: Spa
September 5: Zandvoort September 12: Monza September 26: Sochi
October 3: Singapore October 10: Suzuka October 24: Austin
October 31: Mexico City November 7: Interlagos November 21: Melbourne
December 5: Saudi Arabia December 12: Abu Dhabi
Such a calendar shows that there would be no room for the Chinese Grand Prix irrespective of how contained COVID-19 may hopefully be in the coming months.
What is being widely predicted is that the cancellation of the Chinese Grand Prix will bring with it an earlier start to the European leg of the F1 season and also two Grand Prix for Italy - with Imola joining Monza on the schedule.
Whatever the 2021 F1 calendar eventually looks like, what can never be forgotten is that this is only a sport after all. In the grand scheme of things it pales into significance compared to the global loss of life brought about by COVID-19.
F1 should only race when it is safe and appropriate to do so but for the reasons outlined in this article - it is unlikely to be held in China this year.
Formula One will return to Shanghai - we just cannot be sure when.