F1 Calendar News: March 2022 Round-Up

As the Russian Grand Prix is removed from the Formula 1 calendar, questions arise over which race could replace it on this year’s schedule. Plus F1 renews the contracts of three circuits. Here’s a round-up of all the latest calendar news.

Russian Grand Prix contract terminated

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has taken the headlines around the globe. The conflict has had far-reaching consequences, including in Formula 1 – especially at the Haas team, where Russian driver Nikita Mazepin and the team’s title sponsor Uralkali have been dropped. Mazepin’s seat at the team has been taken by Kevin Magnussen, who returns to Haas after a one-year absence from F1. 

Soon after the invasion, Formula 1 announced that the 2022 Russian Grand Prix would not take place, saying that the race was impossible to hold given the current circumstances. A few days later, they announced that the contract with the Russian Grand Prix race promoter had been terminated. The termination of the contract means that the planned move of the event to Igora Drive in 2023 will not take place.

Will the Russian Grand Prix be replaced?

The cancellation of the Russian Grand Prix leaves a gap in the calendar on September 25. The Sochi race was scheduled to be the start of a triple header of Grands Prix, with F1 visiting Singapore and Japan on the next two successive weekends.

Stefano Domenicali says that F1 would have “no problem” in finding a replacement venue to fill the vacant slot. Some mooted options include a return to Istanbul Park for the Turkish Grand Prix or to Algarve International Circuit for the Portuguese Grand Prix, both of which held races last year.

Meanwhile, Sepang International Circuit, which hosted the Malaysian Grand Prix from 1999 to 2017, posted a cryptic message on social media, suggesting the Kuala Lumpur circuit may be in the running for a spot on this year’s schedule.

Three circuit contracts renewed

There have been three announcements from Formula 1 in the past month on contract extensions. The first was at Bahrain International Circuit, where the Bahrain Grand Prix will continue to be held until at least 2036. The new 15-season extension is believed to be the longest in F1 history. In recent years, the Bahrain Grand Prix has become the season-opening race. Pre-season testing is currently underway at the circuit, with the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix taking place next weekend. 

There was welcome news in America. Circuit of The Americas in Texas will continue to host the United States Grand Prix until at least 2026. The event reached a new level of popularity last year, with 400,000 fans flocking to the circuit over the race weekend. Tickets are expected to go on sale for the 2022 United States Grand Prix next week.

The latest contract extension is perhaps a little more unexpected. Imola will host the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix until 2025 following the signing of a four-year contract extension. Imola’s re-addition to the calendar has proved to be a hit with fans. This year’s race will be the first at the track since 2006 to welcome spectators. Tickets are now on sale.

2022 start times and sprint races

With the start of the 2022 season now just one week away, Formula 1 has announced details of session times for the upcoming year. All but one race will start on the hour in 2022, the exception being the inaugural Miami Grand Prix, which will begin at 15:30 local time. Like in 2021, Friday’s practice sessions will remain one hour in length. However, they will start later in the day to allow time for media commitments beforehand in F1’s new condensed weekend schedule.

F1 also announced that there will be three sprint events this year. The first will take place at Imola in April. The Red Bull Ring and Interlagos are also set to host the sprint format this year. In a change from 2021, the races will now offer points to the top eight finishers, with eight points being awarded to the winner.

2.7 million attended F1 races in 2022

We reported back in December that over two million fans attended races in 2021 and that figure was officially confirmed by Formula 1, who revealed last year’s attendance figures in February. 2.69 million fans were present at F1 races in 2021.

Tarzan In Grandstand Dutch GP

The figure is down 1.5 million on 2019, the last season in which full capacity crowds were able to attend every race. The number is expected to return to its 2019 level – if not even higherexceed 2019 levels this year.

Other F1 calendar news in brief:

  • Albert Park looks set to have a very high attendance figure this year. Following the addition of four new grandstands at the circuit in early February, race organisers announced at the end of the month that Sunday Park Passes for the event have now sold out. It’s the first time this has happened in the event’s history.
  • Jeddah Corniche Circuit has undergone a few minor revisions ahead of F1’s second trip to the venue later this month. The changes mainly involve moving barriers further from the track to improve safety.
  • Talking of track safety, the FIA have approved a new, safer style of debris fence to be installed at all Grade 1 circuits.
  • Work continues at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. Following the building of a new grandstand at the famous Eau Rouge complex, the track is now in the process of being resurfaced. Elsewhere around the circuit, the Pouhon corner has been remodelled, with gravel traps returning in this section of track.
  • A new footbridge has been constructed on the Hamilton Straight at Silverstone, which connects the Silverstone Wing to the new Hilton Garden Inn Hotel. The new hotel is set to open in June, ahead of the 2022 British Grand Prix. The construction was met with some criticism, with fans concerned about their view from the grandstands being blocked by the new bridge.

Which venue would you like to see replace the Russian Grand Prix on the 2022 calendar? Leave a comment below!

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