Japanese GP canceled; alternative event sought

Formula 1 is working on a revised 2021 calendar following confirmation that the Japanese Grand Prix has been canceled.

As reported by RACER on Tuesday, the race at Suzuka has been called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, amid rising cases in Japan. The decision comes after the Olympic and Paralympic Games were only allowed to go ahead without fans, but such an approach wouldn’t work at Suzuka.

F1 is now analyzing a number of different calendar options, with the Turkish Grand Prix on October 3 — a week before the Japan date — also providing challenges as it is currently a “red list” country for travel into the United Kingdom, meaning a number of teams and officials would need to quarantine when returning home. For that reason, replacing Japan with another race in order to negate the quarantine is an option, which further reduces the likelihood of a second race at Austin’s Circuit of The Americas as COVID-19 rates increase in Texas.

“Following ongoing discussions with the promoter and authorities in Japan the decision has been taken by the Japanese government to cancel the race this season due to ongoing complexities of the pandemic in the country,” the statement read.

“Formula 1 is now working on the details of the revised calendar and will announce the final details in the coming weeks. Formula 1 has proven this year, and in 2020, that we can adapt and find solutions to the ongoing uncertainties and is excited by the level of interest from locations to host Formula 1 events this year and beyond.”

As well as the now vacant October 10 date to replace Japan, F1 has yet to finalize any replacement for the Australian GP on 21 November, with additional Middle East races in Bahrain or Qatar believed to be among the possibilities.

The cancellation of the race at Suzuka means there will be no final home race for Honda before it leaves F1 at the end of the season, and the Japanese manufacturer’s chief officer for brand and communication operations, Koji Watanabe, says it is a particularly painful decision.

“It is unfortunate that, for a second consecutive year, it has not been possible to hold the Japanese Formula 1 Grand Prix at Suzuka,” Watanabe said. “As Honda, we are particularly disappointed, because this is the final year of our Formula 1 project and we know that so many fans were looking forward to attending the event.

“The 2021 season is now heading for an exciting climax and we will be giving our all, fighting hard all the way to achieve our goal of winning the championships as this Honda Formula 1 project comes to an end and we hope our fans will continue to support us. Lastly, as the title sponsor of the event, we would like to thank MOBILITYLAND and Formula 1 for working so hard right up to the very last moment, to try and stage the grand prix.”