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Qatar and Abu Dhabi to host F1 races in October and November

The PIF remains a serious bidder should F1 owner Liberty Media change its mind

Formula One will have 23 races this season, still a record and one more than last year, with the sport facing a four-week gap in April after deciding not to replace the cancelled Chinese Grand Prix.

The race in Shanghai, originally scheduled for April 16 as the fourth of 24 rounds, was axed last month for the fourth year in a row due to strict local measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Formula One had said then that it was assessing alternative options, with various venues touted in the media including Portugal’s Portimao circuit that was used as a replacement in 2020 and 2021 for races cancelled during the pandemic.

“Formula One can confirm the 2023 season will consist of 23 races. All existing race dates on the calendar remain unchanged,” the sport said.

That will leave a gap between round three, Australia’s race in Melbourne on April 2, and Azerbaijan’s Grand Prix in Baku on April 30.

Sources told Reuters the Chinese GP organisers had sought a reinstatement after Beijing relaxed Covid controls but that was ruled out for logistical reasons.

Bringing the race in Baku forward by a week was also considered.

The 2023 calendar features the return of Qatar in October, a debut night race in Las Vegas in November and six sprint weekends.

Red Bull’s Dutch driver Max Verstappen will be chasing his third championship in a row when the season starts in Bahrain on March 5 after pre-season testing at the Sakhir circuit in late February.

The season ends in Abu Dhabi on November 26.