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Update: 2023 Chinese Grand Prix return inches closer

A crucial meeting held in Shanghai paves the way for a return to the 2023 F1 calendar for the Chinese Grand Prix.

On Monday RacingNews365 revealed that Juss Events, promoter of the Chinese Grand Prix, is intent on hosting a 2023 edition of the race on the original date of 16th April. According to sources, the go-ahead to negotiate for the return of the event with Formula One Management was granted during a high-level meeting, convened today in Shanghai. RacingNews365 understands that the meeting was chaired by Chinese Communist Party Secretary and Member of the Politburo Chen Jining, who plans to showcase the Grand Prix as a return to sporting normality and international acceptance for the country. China lifts all quarantine restrictions for incoming travellers on 8th January, and the Grand Prix would mark the first major international sporting event in the country since the Winter Olympics in 2022. Chen's blessing paves the way for Juss Events to approach FOM with a government-backed proposal, which would be difficult to counter given that the April date is still open. However, FOM is believed to be concerned about rising COVID infection rates in the country and the potential need for F1 personnel to enter quarantine upon their returns to Europe after the event.

Shanghai requires further FIA checks

The Chinese government has threatened to reciprocate against countries such as the UK, France and Italy - where the vast majority of F1 personnel reside - should they demand that travellers from China provide negative COVID-19 tests before boarding. “We firmly reject using COVID measures for political purposes and will take corresponding measures in response to varying situations via the principle of reciprocity,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning threatened this week. The last Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit was staged in April 2019, with all subsequent rounds cancelled due to the Covid pandemic. Thus, trackside officials and marshals would need to be given refresher courses as the circuit has not staged any international motorsport since end-2019. A further obstacle in the time available is that the facility would require a full track inspection by FIA personnel to ensure that it still complies with Grade 1 certification. Under the lockdown no inspections were possible. According to sources who cannot be named as they are not authorised to comment, the move by Juss and the Shanghai CCP branch could be “a ploy to force FOM onto the backfoot” after F1’s commercial rights holder cancelled the April 16, 2023 date in December, citing “ongoing difficulties presented by the COVID-19 situation.” The sources added that any extension to the current contract would be contingent upon a race being staged this year. FOM would not comment when approached about the latest developments.

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