When sports become more global and events are held in many parts of the world, the chances of anything going wrong or an incident happening in one of the scheduled countries increases dramatically. Formula One has seen this on multiple occasions in recent years, but it has not always been immune to it. Which Grand Prix races have been cancelled in the history of motorsport’s highest level?
Chinese Grand Prix (1998, 2020-2023)
The Asian giant has variously agreed to host a Grand Prix in their country with the FOM and the FIA. Zhuhai was planned to host the first Chinese Grand Prix in 1998. It was held in Shanghai without incident from 2004 until 2019, however the Covid-19 epidemic has stopped it from taking place since 2020.
The Covid-19 outbreak not only impacted the Chinese Grand Prix, but also disrupted a substantial section of the season. Australia, Japan, Brazil, the United States of America, Canada, Mexico, the Netherlands… Due to the logistical issues caused by the pandemic, many countries’ races were removed from the calendar.
Bahrain Grand Prix (2011)
The Bahrain International Circuit was planned to host the annual Formula One race in 2011. However, the Arab Spring had an impact on the country, resulting in repeated protests and the cancellation of the Grand Prix.
Belgium Grand Prix (2003)
Tobacco has been a major source of income for Formula 1 until the turn of the millennium. Tobacco businesses benefited not only the teams, but also the Grand Prix races. In the case of Belgium, in 2003, the country completely banned tobacco advertising, to which the FIA reacted by removing the race from the calendar.
Canadian Grand Prix (1987)
Once again, sponsors were a problem for a Formula 1 Grand Prix. In this case, not because of their absence or the nature of the event, but because there were too many of them! The 1987 Canadian Grand Prix had two local breweries that wanted to sponsor the event, but an agreement couldn’t be reached, resulting in the cancellation of the race.
Soviet Union Grand Prix (1982-1983)
When Hungary joined the Formula One calendar in 1986, it included a Grand Prix behind the Iron Curtain. However, just three years earlier, Formula One was scheduled to visit Moscow for the Soviet Union Grand Prix, which never happened.
New York Grand Prix (1983)
One of Formula One’s long-standing goals has been to conduct a race in New York. It came near to becoming a reality in the 1980s, when a race on an urban track in Queens was agreed upon. However, the race never took place, and F1 still hasn’t raced in the city that never sleeps.
South African Grand Prix (1981)
The relationship between the teams and the FISA (former equivalent of the FIA) was very tense in the 1980s. Some teams formed the FOCA, an association of teams to try to impose their conditions. This led to an escalation of tension that resulted in the cancellation of the race. However, there was still a race that week: it was held as a non-championship race.