Formula One is having another difficult year of calendar struggles. After 2020 totally imploded the schedule, putting the series into suspension for months, it’s been more of a case of constant shifting since things got underway this year in Bahrain. The first sign of trouble was, err, that it started in Bahrain after the Australian event was, somewhat predictably, unviable under COVID restrictions. Now, it looks like another location may be displaced in favor of a second grand prix in the United States.
Keep in mind that the Canadian event already had to be scratched out and replaced by Turkey. Great, that’s all settled except oh no, then Turkey had to be canned and France got moved and there’s two Austrian races again, which is like, fine but the rest of the calendar needn’t consider itself too safe—including Singapore.
The Singapore Grand Prix was due to run on Oct. 3, which seemed like enough runway that—vaccination programs permitting—it could’ve happened. However, it’s been confirmed as a no-go. Disgruntled locals, including ticketholders, told me that it’d been announced to the international press before it reached Singaporeans but the reports are legit so: another one bites the dust.
Where Austin’s Circuit of the Americas comes into it is that F1 is determined to have its 23-race calendar this year, come hell, high water, flames, plague or any other gigantic global disruption that makes moving a race circus around the world incredibly difficult. What makes F1’s problems even harder is it can only race on what the FIA calls “Grade 1” circuits, which are considered safe for the speeds of modern F1 cars and have very specific demands in terms of facilities, proximity to hospitals, barriers, and so forth.
That’s all a heck of a lot to handle under normal circumstances. With Singapore pulling out, F1 needs to come up with somewhere that fits into the latter part of its calendar relatively sensibly, which is where COTA comes in.
According to RaceFans, there are three potential replacements in the running. One is a potential return to Shanghai for the Chinese Grand Prix, assuming coronavirus restrictions can be handled by then. A second is having another bash at Turkey, assuming things will be more manageable there by October.
The third, though, is a second race in Texas. That seems, potentially, the best goer, too; after all, IndyCar and NASCAR have been holding motorsport events in Texas this year already, which hasn’t been the case at Istanbul Park or Shanghai International Circuit. Plus, F1’s U.S.-based owner, Liberty Media, is keen for more American races so it’s kind of a “ticks all the boxes” choice.
It’d make sense, too, given Mexico City’s mayor said on Thursday that its race will definitely be viable by October. For once, some calendar synergy.
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