The 2023 season is officially down to 23 races.
Formula 1 has announced that the Chinese Grand Prix has officially been canceled and will not be replaced with another event. The 2023 season will remain the busiest ever, with 23 races scheduled between 5 March and 26 November.
This announcement was made the same day China lifted its strict COVID-19 restrictions. The last batch of regulations called for a quarantine period, which would have been a nightmare for teams that run on a tight schedule. Thanks to Alfa Romeo F1 Team Orlen, we now know that teams spend roughly 15% of their budget on logistics and that 90% of the planning is already in place before the season starts.
This is likely why China can't be added back to the calendar and why shoehorning another race in its place at short notice, relatively speaking, was never really an option.
China's COVID-19 restrictions are also not the only ones to consider. Following the recent growth spurt of cases in mainland China, several countries have imposed restrictions on travelers flying from China. Azerbaijan only requires a vaccination certification, but the current rules are only in place until 1 March 2023. Simply put, there are too many variables in play.
According to Motorsport.com, F1 tried to find a solution, but it didn't pan out. There were rumors of a Grand Prix at the Portimao Circuit in Portugal, but this did not happen. F1 even tried to move the Azerbaijan Grand Prix to earlier in April, but the country's racing authorities expressed concerns about the chilly and windy conditions in Baku that time of year. The race is already much earlier than usual, moving from mid-June to late April, and that's enough of a gamble for the authorities.
Interestingly, we found a few curious tidbits while checking the facts and dates. Now that there are only 23 races this season, the teams are limited to four gearboxes. If China remained in place, a fifth would have been added. The number of power units and all the related components remains firmly at three, despite the extra races.
We also noticed that the Las Vegas Grand Prix is still not set in stone because the circuit is still subject to FIA homologation. We're 100% sure this is a formality, as Vegas has enough money to make anything happen within 11 months. People are already buying million-dollar packages for the event, and that price does not include a new Ferrari 296 GTB.
The season officially kicks off on 23 February with pre-season testing in Bahrain. Teams will remain in Bahrain for two weeks, with the first race taking place at Bahrain's Sakhir Circuit.