Formula One cancels Russian Grand Prix following invasion of Ukraine
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Formula 1 could replace the axed Russian Grand Prix with a second race around the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore to ensure the record 23-race 2022 season is completed. It is just one of a number of ideas mooted after the Sochi Autodrom was dropped as a venue amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, leaving F1 in need of another track to host a grand prix.
The Russian Grand Prix was set to stage the 17th round of the season on September 25 as the season approaches its climax. However, the race was suspended and then cancelled entirely after Russian president Vladimir Putin launched his military attack on Ukraine.
The Sochi race was originally scheduled as part of a triple-header of races along with Singapore and Japan. However, speculation is suggesting Singapore could now host events on both September 25 and October 2 before moving east to Suzuka.
Rumours suggest the first weekend of the double-header in Singapore would be raced earlier than tradition, with the second weekend retaining the usual 20:00 slot. The plan is gaining steam due to the course’s favourable location, while it would also alleviate some of the recent concerns regarding F1’s freight movements.
The news of a potential double-header in Singapore might not be welcomed by seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, who has labelled the race ‘as boring as Monaco to watch’. The Brit’s comments came after he finished P4 at the Singapore Grand Prix in 2019, which was won by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
Hamilton urged event organisers to add more overtaking spots to the track to avoid worries of the event becoming like the Monaco GP, which – despite its immense history, intrigue and glamour – could be removed from the calendar. Hamilton said: “This unfortunately, it is a really beautiful place that we come to and it is such a great track, but it is worse than Monaco almost. Was it as boring as Monaco to watch that race?
“Maybe we need to change the last corner so we stop in a hairpin and we have a tight hairpin to go around. The [current] last corner, you cannot follow and it is a sequence of five quite fast corners that come up after where you never get close. That will make it even more special this track maybe.”
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However, Qatar remains an enticing option for F1 officials. QIA, the Qatari sovereign wealth fund, holds a 17% share block in the Volkswagen Group, which has been considering entering F1 for a while.
The company are yet to commit Audi and Porsche to the sport amid discussions, and an extra race in Qatar could prove to be a key bargaining chip for F1. Qatar has been linked with the vacant September 25 slot after the country hosted its first-ever Grand Prix last season, ahead of embarking on a new 10-year deal from 2023.
The chief concern over a race being held in Qatar at that time of the year is the extreme heat, with temperatures pushing 40 degrees, which is why other tracks are being considered. The 22-race F1 2022 campaign – which is expected to return to a record 23 races in the near future once a Russian Grand Prix replacement is found – continues with the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on April 24.
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