Formula One was supposed to have the first Vietnamese Grand Prix this year, but that was scuttled because of the pandemic. It was supposed to, instead, happen next year, but that’s now been scuttled because of an arrest. Next year will still be the longest Formula One season in history.
It will be 23 grands prix for next, with Vietnam out and a replacement race not yet announced. Nguyen Duc Chung, who was the chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee, a government post, was arrested in August and accused of stealing state secrets. Those charges weren’t related to the Vietnamese Grand Prix but it was still enough for Formula One to walk away from the race, according to the Guardian, since Chung was a strong local supporter of it.
The grand prix was to be staged the last weekend in April next year. Instead, that weekend has a big old “to be confirmed” abbreviation next to it on the official calendar.
Here is that calendar, via F1:
21 March – Australia (Melbourne)
28 March – Bahrain (Sakhir)
11 April – China (Shanghai)
25 April – TBC (TBC)
9 May – Spain (Barcelona)*
23 May – Monaco (Monaco)
6 June – Azerbaijan (Baku)
13 June – Canada (Montreal)
27 June – France (Le Castellet)
4 July – Austria (Spielberg)
18 July – United Kingdom (Silverstone)
1 August – Hungary (Budapest)
29 August – Belgium (Spa)
5 September – Netherlands (Zandvoort)
12 September – Italy (Monza)
26 September – Russia (Sochi)
3 October – Singapore (Singapore)
10 October – Japan (Suzuka)
24 October – USA (Austin)
31 October – Mexico (Mexico City)
14 November – Brazil (Sao Paulo)*
28 November – Saudi Arabia (Jeddah)
5 December – Abu Dhabi (Abu Dhabi)
*Subject to contract
Vietnam signed up for Formula One hoping the glamour of the sport could reflect the country’s economic lift-off and reshape Hanoi’s staid image, much as it has done for Singapore which will again host a race next year.
The communist nation inked a 10-year deal with Formula One in 2018 with state media saying hosting the race would cost the country $60 million per year.
The fee has been picked up in full by the country’s largest private conglomerate, VinGroup, which had been hoping to dazzle with a night race.
But its 2020 race was cancelled due to concerns that teams and fans coming from overseas could spark a new outbreak of Covid-19 and the corruption scandal surrounding Nguyen Duc Chung now threatens the future of the event.
“Without Chung, the future of the race is gloomy. It might not happen,” a source close to the race told AFP on condition of anonymity.
There is something funny about Formula One pulling out of Vietnam but happily going forward with races in Russia, Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Hungary, and Azerbaijan, Bahrain, and China. Nothing problematic about those countries at all.