The Azerbaijan, Singapore and Japanese grands prix have all officially been cancelled as the 2020 Formula 1 calendar continues to shrink in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
Teams have been aware for some time that the races were not going to happen, with the street event nature of Baku and Singapore creating huge logistical issues and requiring the organisers to commit to a long lead time to prepare their venues.
Azerbaijan was postponed from its original June date some weeks ago, and it had tentatively been scheduled for Singapore’s September 20 date before government restrictions forced its cancellation.
The prospects for the Suzuka race became clear after the same promoter recently cancelled the MotoGP event at sister track Motegi, which was due to be held a week later. F1 cited "ongoing travel restrictions" as the reason.
The cancellations open up a big gap in the schedule between Italy on September 6 and the USA, which is scheduled for October 25 but thought unlikely to happen. The only race still officially listed for that six-weekend spread is the Russia Grand Prix in Sochi on September 27.
F1 is still working to confirm other events for that period, with China the main flyaway option and Canada an outside bet, along with additional European races.
"We are confident in our plans to have between 15-18 races by the time our season concludes in Abu Dhabi in mid-December and expect to publish the finalised calendar before we start our season in Austria," an F1 statement said.
“As a result of the ongoing challenges presented by COVID-19, we and our promoters in Azerbaijan, Singapore and Japan have taken the decision to cancel their races for the 2020 season.
"These decisions have been taken due to the different challenges our promoters face in those countries.
“At the same time we have made significant progress with existing and new promoters on the revised calendar and have been particularly encouraged by the interest that has been shown by new venues in hosting a Formula 1 race during the 2020 season."
As a street race Vietnam faces similar issues to Azerbaijan and Singapore. The country is still under restrictions and the promoter is understood not to be keen to run the first event without a full crowd, and there are also concerns about potentially having two races within six months, with the 2021 event set for April.
The Singapore organisers cited restrictions on the construction work required to build up the circuit as the main reason for the cancellation.
“The last few months have been extremely challenging on all fronts,” said Singapore GP deputy chairman Colin Syn. “And we have now made this difficult decision which F1 and our stakeholders accept we have had to take.
“Ultimately, the health and safety of our contractors and their workers, spectators, F1 crew, staff and volunteer marshals is our number one priority, and we thank everyone for their patience and unwavering support thus far.”
Ticket holders will get an automatic refund or can ask to transfer to the 2021 event.