Formula 1’s unprecedentedly-long 2023 calendar looks set to shrink by one race.
The sport has unveiled its 24-event schedule for next year, including the return of China – with Shanghai having been absent since the onset of covid in early 2020.
But according to Auto Motor und Sport, China’s ongoing ‘covid zero’ policies will make a Formula 1 race almost impossible to organise.
“There is no substitute candidate for Shanghai, either,” claimed correspondent Tobias Gruner. “Cancellation would mean a four-week break right after the third race in Melbourne.
“Therefore, Formula 1 is said to be already discussing putting the Baku race on the China date.”
A reduction from 24 to 23 grands prix is likely to be welcomed by the F1 teams.
“There is a danger that we will hit a cliff and fall into an abyss,” says Haas boss Gunther Steiner, when asked if 24 races is too many per season.
Williams boss Jost Capito, also speaking at the Las Vegas GP launch event on Sunday, agrees.
“I think 24 races is a lot for the teams,” he is quoted by De Telegraaf. “We have 22 this year and already you can see that the fatigue is hitting the teams.
“They’re looking forward to the end of the season now.”
Haas driver Kevin Magnussen admits: “I have a little daughter at home and this year is the toughest season I’ve ever done with 22 races all over the world.”
Steiner explained: “Since Liberty Media took over, a lot has changed for the better. But we cannot continue to grow.
“We now have 24 races and we should keep it that way for now and not try to make it 27, because that’s too much. We need to stabilise now,” the Haas team principal added.
However, it is not clear that F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali agrees with that assessment.
“A few years ago, people said that Formula 1 was slipping,” he said in Las Vegas. “So I’m glad that’s not the case anymore.
“We should not slow down growth now, but instead continue and be proud of what we have achieved.”