The return of the Chinese Grand Prix will have to wait a bit longer than expected, after the government pulled the plug on this year’s Formula 1 race in Shanghai owing to Covid restrictions. Now F1 is in a peculiar position of having a long break between races, as it was due to slot in between Australia and Azerbaijan. With that in mind, the RacingNews365.com team got together to discuss the venues we would have liked to see replace China, or in one case, not at all… Rory Mitchell – Sepang International Circuit Although the Malaysian government has recently come out and said F1 is “too expensive” to host at the track , it makes the most sense to return to this logistically. The Sepang International Circuit had its fair share of action over the years, given that the climate in the country can often throw up unexpected conditions that range from light rainfall to monsoon conditions. A look at the weather forecast for this weekend shows that there would have been thunderstorms throughout, which potentially could have shaken up the order and produced a thrilling race. F1 has a difficult relationship with wet conditions owing to the lack of testing on wet tyres, but the FIA is currently researching ways to make it easier for teams to race in extreme wet conditions. Jake Nichol – None As Oscar Wilde wrote in The Picture of Dorian Gray: “There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” The continued creeping of the calendar past 20 races and north towards 25 (not counting the Sprints) is understandable as F1 enjoys its latest period of boom, with more sets of eyeballs on the product than ever before – and younger ones at that. As such, there feels a need to have the product available and in front of them around the clock, or risk them drifting off to something else. F1 has done the easy bit in getting to the new fans, now comes the hard bit in retaining them. Let us not forget that prior to the cancellation of the Chinese Grand Prix, there were set to be 24 races on the calendar this year – that’s two-thirds the length of a NASCAR Cup season, another schedule which could do with a healthy bit of pruning if the shears could be located. But unlike the domestic-based NASCAR, F1 criss-crosses the globe, with some unusual back-to-back races put together, such as Azerbaijan and Miami and then Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi. A mini summer break is what we got in April 2023 with China not being replaced. Time for drivers and teams to reflect on their opening to the season, for media to analyse and debunk some claims and for fans to have a rest themselves. The rest of the 2023 season will be manic, especially through the summer, so let’s all just take a deep breath and enjoy this most unusual of breaks. Ewan Gale – Istanbul Park With the calendar bulging and the possibility of further additions in the coming years, this insight into a spring break could be an option deployed by F1 moving forward. The preference would be to refrain from filling the void left by the Chinese Grand Prix but if a stand-in was needed, I would opt for a return to Turkey. A tried and tested venue that often throws up exciting racing, logistically Istanbul Park should have been more than achievable had F1 needed to fill the space at the tail end of last year. But the four-week gap has proven to be a welcome breather for all involved ahead of what is set to be a relentless run to the traditional summer break. Michael Butterworth – Kyalami Formula 1’s Covid-enforced calendar changes in 2020 allowed fans the opportunity to witness races on circuits that had long disappeared from the calendar, such as Istanbul, Imola and the Nurburgring, as well as entirely new (to F1) facilities like Mugello and Portimao. But rather than choosing any of these Europe-based circuits, I’m going a lot further afield and throwing Kyalami’s hat into the ring. The South African circuit has not hosted a Grand Prix since 1993, and does not currently have the FIA Grade 1 certificate necessary to stage a round of the F1 World Championship. However, with Africa the only continent missing from the current calendar, F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has been very vocal about his desire to see a Grand Prix in Africa. And from a sporting point of view, Kyalami would surely produce great racing. The 2.8 mile circuit has bags of character, with a mixture of tight hairpins, sweeping curves and plenty of elevation meaning there should be ample overtaking opportunities. The modern-day circuit also uses part of the legendary pre-1985 Kyalami layout, when the track was known as one of the fastest and most fearsome on the F1 calendar. And changeable weather could be a factor too, as the last time F1 raced here, in 1993, a downpour hit the circuit just before the end, adding another layer of jeopardy and suspense to proceedings. Sadly, a return to Kyalami doesn’t look close, with funding issues still plaguing the circuit, but if F1 wants to be considered a truly global sport, a race in Africa is badly needed. Anna Francis – Hockenheim/Nurburgring My answer is perhaps rooted in nostalgia, but I would like to see the return of a German Grand Prix. Hockenheim and Nurburgring would be the options available to F1, given that these are the two venues in the country to hold the FIA Grade 1 certification required to host a Formula 1 race. Each track made its most recent appearance on the calendar within the past few years; Hockenheim last held the German Grand Prix in 2019, while the Nurburgring was brought back during the Covid-affected 2020 season, with the race being known as the Eifel Grand Prix. Some months prior to the announcement of his retirement from the sport, Sebastian Vettel lamented the loss of a race in his home country, but remained doubtful that the event would return any time soon. Sadly, it looks like he was right, so the prospect of the German Grand Prix making a comeback is admittedly a fanciful one. Still, for myself and other fans who have memories of watching F1 race at these tracks during the Michael Schumacher/Ferrari era, it is nice to imagine that it could happen one day.
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