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F1 set for surprise Grand Prix in 2023?

The Chinese Grand Prix was to be absent from F1 in 2023 for the fourth year in a row. But RacingNews365.com understands that the race may yet be run this year.

The Chinese Grand Prix may be set to reappear on the Formula 1 calendar in 2023 – just weeks after it was confirmed that the Shanghai race would not take place this year. First run in 2004, the Chinese Grand Prix was an annual fixture on the F1 calendar until 2019, with every subsequent edition of the race falling victim to the country's strict Covid-zero protocols. It was announced on December 2nd that the Chinese Grand Prix would once again not take place in 2023, with Formula 1 citing "difficulties presented by the Covid-19 situation" in the country. However, since that announcement, China has rapidly rolled back many of its Covid-related restrictions and protocols, and is set to remove all quarantine requirements for international arrivals on January 8th. The Chinese Basketball Association and football's Chinese Super League have also recently welcomed fans back into stadiums, after over two years of playing in empty arenas and in centralised, Covid-secure 'bubbles'. With the removal of Covid-related restrictions creating a more welcoming environment for hosting large-scale events, RacingNews365.com has learned from well-placed local sources that Chinese Grand Prix promoter Juss Sports is intent on hosting the race in 2023 on its original April 16th date, and has presented Formula 1 with a proposal to do so. Despite the country's Covid-zero policy preventing the Chinese Grand Prix from taking place since 2019, Formula 1 is known to be keen to keep the Shanghai race on the calendar, and in November 2021 extended its contract with the Chinese Grand Prix until 2025.

Hurdles for Shanghai to overcome?

Should the 2023 Chinese Grand Prix not take place, it would be the fourth year in a row without the Shanghai race, and RacingNews365.com understands that the event's contract with Formula 1 may be voided if more than three years pass without a Chinese Grand Prix. It is also understood that Juss Sports have entered into a contract with China's only F1 driver, Zhou Guanyu, in a deal that would see the firm take a percentage of Zhou's sponsorship and appearance fees around the Chinese Grand Prix weekend. If the Chinese Grand Prix is run this year, it would represent the first time a Chinese driver has raced at the Shanghai event, and the expected increase in Chinese interest would boost sponsorship in the country and help offset Juss Sports' hosting fees. With the Shanghai International Circuit not having staged any international motorsport since 2019, it is likely that local marshals would have to be retrained, and that the circuit would be subject to inspection in order to retain its FIA Grade 1 certification. When approached by RacingNews365.com, Formula 1 declined to comment.

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