The Vietnamese Grand Prix has been removed from the 2021 Formula 1 calendar, raising concerns about the rescheduled race ever taking place in the future.
The capital city Hanoi was originally set to host a street race for the first time in April before being cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
A 22-race schedule was published today (November 10), outlining plans for the races set to take place in 2021, however, the date for the Vietnam race, April 25, had been left blank. It could see the calendar extended to 23 grand prix's for the first time in F1’s history, if it is able to secure a replacement for Vietnam.
It has been reported that the decision to drop the race from the schedule is related to political issues in the country, with Hanoi People's Committee chairman Nguyen Duc Chung having been arrested in August for alleged appropriation of documents containing state secrets, leaving remaining officials prioritising other matters including elections, the pandemic and recovery from a devastating typhoon.
The 2021 season is set to start on March 21 in Australia and conclude in Abu Dhabi on December 5. News of a potential vaccine will be welcome from F1 officials who were already confident of seeing out a successful campaign next year, unless unexpected situations arose once more.
An F1 statement read: "The plans for 2021 have involved extensive dialogue with all promoters and their local and national authorities at a time of ongoing fluidity related to the global pandemic.
"Formula 1 and the FIA put in place robust health and safety measures to allow the revised 2020 season to restart and run effectively.
"Our hosts for 2021 are reassured by our safe return to racing this season and confident that the plans and procedures we have in place will allow us to return to a level of normality for the 2021 season."
F1 chairman and chief executive officer Chase Carey said: "We are planning for 2021 events with fans that provide an experience close to normal and expect our agreements to be honoured.
"We have proven that we can safely travel and operate our races and our promoters increasingly recognise the need to move forward and manage the virus.
"In fact, many hosts actually want to use our event as a platform to show the world they are moving forward."
Talks are taking place for a possible race to go ahead in Vietnam in 2022.
Turkey, Italy’s Imola and Portugal’s Portimao are the current leading candidates to replace the cancelled Vietnam race.
Elsewhere, Brazil’s Interlagos is still due to continue next season. A new circuit is being planned in Rio but is yet to have been given the go ahead by the government.
Author: Jake Wilkin