The Japanese Grand Prix has been cancelled for a second year over “ongoing complexities” with Covid-19, Formula 1 said Wednesday.
The race was due to take place at Suzuka on October 10, but F1 said the Japanese government had pulled the plug due to the country’s pandemic situation.
Japan is currently battling record coronavirus infections, with Tokyo, which successfully held the recent Olympics behind closed doors, and other regions under a state of emergency.
“The decision has been taken by the Japanese government to cancel the race this season due to ongoing complexities of the pandemic in the country,” F1 said in a statement.
The move follows Grand Prix cancellations this season in Australia, China, Canada and Singapore.
F1 said it had yet to decide how to fill the gap but one option may be to hold a second US race in Austin, Texas.
“Formula 1 is now working on the details of the revised calendar and will announce the final details in the coming weeks,” the statement said.
“Formula 1 has proven this year, and in 2020, that we can adapt and find solutions to the ongoing uncertainties and is excited by the level of interest in locations to host Formula 1 events this year and beyond.”
Japan’s MotoGP, which was also scheduled to take place in October, was scrapped in June.
The cancellation of the Japanese GP is especially disappointing to Honda who will be deprived of a last farewell in front of their home fans before withdrawing from the sport at the end of the season.
Honda engines currently power Red Bull and its sister team Alpha Tauri.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen is currently second in the world drivers’ championship, engaged in a thrilling tussle with Lewis Hamilton whose Mercedes team are also edging the constructors’ championship.
Honda is also, via a subsidiary, owner of the Suzuka circuit which has hosted the Japanese GP since 2009.
“It is unfortunate that, for a second consecutive year, it has not been possible to hold the Japanese Formula 1 Grand Prix at Suzuka,” the team said in a statement.
“As Honda, we are particularly disappointed, because this is the final year of our Formula 1 project and we know that so many fans were looking forward to attending the event.”
The figure-of-eight Suzuka circuit, which will celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2022, has hosted 31 GPs since 1987, with the drivers’ world title being decided there on 11 occasions.
In April, Japanese GP promoters and F1 chiefs announced that the race would remain at Suzuka until 2024.
Japan has just hosted the Olympic Games, with no spectators allowed in the stadiums, and is preparing to do the same, under similar conditions, for the Paralympic Games, which begin next week.
Since the end of June, the country has been experiencing its worst wave of coronavirus to date, due in particular to the Delta variant.
A state of emergency has been re-established since mid-July in part of the country, including the capital Tokyo, for the fourth time since the beginning of the pandemic.
But the system, which was extended on Tuesday, seems to be losing its effectiveness. Daily cases of Covid-19 continue to increase and exceeded the 20,000 mark across the country for the first time on Friday and Saturday.