The inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix seems likely to be postponed for a second-straight year, although COVID-19 is not the key reason for its omission from the 2021 Formula 1 calendar.
The purpose-built Hanoi City Circuit, featuring a combination of city streets and permanent sections, was set to host the first-ever race in that southeast Asian country in April of this year but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally, Vietnam sought a later race date in 2020, but after the schedule was finalized and the final rounds were published without listing Hanoi, it was a number of weeks before the race was officially cancelled.
F1 is set to publish its 2021 calendar on Tuesday, but RACER has learned Vietnam will not be on it despite hopes to have it as part of a 23-race season. A breakdown in communication between the race organizers and F1 is partly attributed to the arrest of a key figure behind the race – the chairman of Hanoi People’s Committee, Nguyen Duc Chung – who is alleged to have appropriated documents containing state secrets.
Should the race be dropped from the provisional 2021 calendar, it remains to be seen whether the race will ever take place at all. F1, though, is unwilling to comment on the development ahead of the publication of the new schedule.
“Our calendar will be announced tomorrow and we are not going to give a running commentary before its publication,” an F1 spokesperson said. “It also needs to go to the World Motor Sport Council for approval.”
F1 had hoped to run a 23-race season in 2021, and the lack of a Hanoi race could open the door for one of the venues that was a late addition to this year’s rearranged calendar to remain involved if the sport leaves the slot on the schedule open.