Formula 1’s Japanese Grand Prix has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the successful undertaking of the Olympic Games in the country.
The Suzuka race was in doubt because of complexities around the pandemic and Japan’s strict entry restrictions.
But F1 and Honda, owner of Suzuka and sponsor of the race, were buoyed by the delayed Olympics going ahead this summer.
It was hoped that the Japanese GP would be permitted, potentially even with a limited number of fans.
Instead it has been announced that the government will not let the race be held.
It means Honda will not have chance to race at home one final time before it withdraws from F1 at the end of the season.
A Honda statement described the cancellation as “unfortunate”, adding: “As Honda, we are particularly disappointed, because this is the final year of our Formula 1 project and we know that so many fans were looking forward to attending the event.”
The impact this will have on the calendar is unclear as F1 is exploring various options.
One is for a double-header in the United States with a second Austin race known as the Texas Grand Prix.
Other calendar uncertainties relate to countries with difficult entry restrictions for travellers from the UK – with Turkey and Mexico both on the UK government’s ‘red list’.
However, there are ways around this, such as planning different onward travel arrangements to allow UK-based personnel to go to such countries without having to quarantine on return.
It is expected to take a few weeks to finalise the 2021 calendar.
“Following ongoing discussions with the promoter and authorities in Japan the decision has been taken by the Japanese Government to cancel the race this season due to ongoing complexities of the pandemic in the country,” said an F1 statement.
“Formula 1 is now working on the details of the revised calendar and will announce the final details in the coming weeks.
“Formula 1 has proven this year, and in 2020, that we can adapt and find solutions to the ongoing uncertainties and is excited by the level of interest in locations to host Formula 1 events this year and beyond.”