TJ13 reported late October that the Chinese GP would most likely be cancelled and this news is now confirmed today by the BBC. Formula One has not visited China since 2019 following the outbreak of Covid-19 in Wuhan early in 2020. The Shanghai event was earmarked as the fourth round of the 2023 season but Chinese zero-Covid policy means the race will now not take place.
The ruling party recently reduced the quarantine period for people entering the country to 9 days from 14. However it is the other regulations that make it impossible for F1 to hold an event in China.
TJ13 October article re: Chinese GP
No Covid restriction expeditions for F1
F1 staff would be given no exemptions from the Chinese policy which insist anyone testing positive with Covid must spend 5 days in an isolation centre then a further 3 days at home. This could see swathes of any given team wiped out and unable to prepare and race their cars during a weekend.
It appears too late in the day to replace the event slated for Shanghai with another race which gives the F1 authorities a headache.
The season begins following testing in Bahrain on March 5th and then moves to Saudi Arabia 2 weeks later. There’s a gap of a further 2 weeks before the Australian GP on April 2nd and the Chinese GP was scheduled another two weeks on into the year.
Azerbaijan playing hardball
Formula One is believed to be asking the Azerbaijan race promoters to bring their event forward a week from April 30th. However, the Baku organisers are resisting this at present.
This will mean Formula One will have 28 days between the Australian GP and its next event in Azerbaijan with no hope of filling the gap with another F1 race.
Azerbaijan’s F1 contract expires following the 2023 so it may be that Stefano Dominicali and his team can yet exert pressure on the race organisers to help with revising the schedule. Yet the Baku promoters pay one of the biggest hosting fees to Formula One and may believe they are entitled to keep their existing race weekend dates.
By reducing the calendar from 24 to 23 races, this will mean the F1 teams no longer receive the allocation of 1 extra power unit. The regulations will remain as they were this season which caused some controversy in Belgium and Italy.
No extra power unit for 24 races
At present each driver is allowed a maximum of 3 power units per season and when they exceed this grid position penalties are applied.
At the Belgium GP almost half the field of 20 drivers’ took extra power units making the qualifying session somewhat of a farce.
By the final race in Abu Dhabi 7 drivers had used double the number of power units allowed and only 5 drivers had used no more than the limit of 3.
The F1 commission is expected to discuss this further particularly because it makes a farce of the budget cap system. Lewis Hamilton fought back in the 2021 championship by famously fitting a new power unit at altitude in Brazil as the team admitted for “performance reasons” only.
Tougher regulations for exceeding PU allowance
With Red Bull Racing being made the pariah’s of the paddock for a ‘minor overspend’ of the budget cap of less than $500,000, fitting a new power unit costing in excess of $10m for performance reasons is clearly farcical.
Further, at times drivers’ have received 25 or more grid place drops, but given their qualifying position they in fact serve a fraction of the penalty.
The commission noted at its previous meeting, “the current system is not a strong enough deterrent to teams to make strategic power unit changes and encourages the change of more elements than needed once a driver has accumulated more than a certain level of penalty.”
FIA to address extra PU’s for “performance reasons”
The excess use of power unit parts “ultimately causes higher parts costs and undermines the PU element annual restrictions,” the FIA noted.
TJ13 has suggested the FIA introduce a system used in the WEC. Here any unused portion of the grid drop penalty is rolled over from race weekend to race weekend until it has been served in full.
However, this will penalise the lower midfield more than the top teams who flout the power unit restrictions ore frequently.
It could be the FIA introduce a reduction in aerodynamic testing time for using excess power units in addition to a modified grid drop penalty system.
READ MORE: Marko says Red Bull could have fought their penalty
"That was really not good…" ☹️
An honest Toto Wolff reflects on Mercedes' disappointing final race of the season 👇 pic.twitter.com/dyTyKTdujw
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) November 20, 2022
Am I the only one that sees the solution to this as being to start in China? Then teams can arrive weeks ahead of the GP to quarantine, without affecting the rest of the calendar…