The Japanese Grand Prix is set to be canceled for 2021 due to the ongoing the COVID-19 situation in the country, leaving the Formula 1 calendar facing another reshuffle.
Suzuka was scheduled to host a race on October 10 following the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Japan, but recent months have brought an increase in COVID-19 infections and the activation of a state of emergency in some areas of the country. While the race organizers had originally been hopeful of getting the chance to host a race with fans, that potential has now gone and RACER understands a cancelation of this year’s event is likely to be confirmed in the coming days.
The decision from the Japanese government will mean there will have been no Japanese GP since the 2019 event, and ensures no farewell race for Honda ahead of the power unit manufacturer’s withdrawal from the sport at the end of the season.
Japan has been one of the most pressing question marks on the calendar since Singapore was called off, with the race preceding the United States Grand Prix in Austin in under eight weeks’ time. In recent weeks it has appeared likely there would be two races at Circuit of the Americas if Japan was called off, but RACER has also learned there is now some uncertainty about that plan given the increase in COVID-19 restrictions in Travis County.
F1 had originally scheduled a record 23-race calendar for this season, but as various regions face different waves of the pandemic that target is looking increasingly unlikely. However, there is still every chance the previous record of 21 races in a season will be matched or even exceeded following recent confirmation of the Dutch Grand Prix and with a number of options for races in the Middle East if required.