Singapore, Baku and Suzuka races canceled as F1 narrows down options for 2020 calendar

Races in Singapore, Azerbaijan and Japan will not take place this year, Formula One has confirmed as it continues to target a calendar of between 15 and 18 events.

The Singapore and Azerbaijan Grands Prix were both in doubt due to the long lead time needed to prepare the street races and the difficulties of doing so under safety regulations linked to the coronavirus pandemic. Along with the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka, which cited travel restrictions as its main issue, they have been canceled for this season as Formula One narrows down its options for further races beyond the eight European rounds it has already confirmed.

"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," read a statement. "These decisions have been taken due to the different challenges our promoters face in those countries.

"In Singapore and Azerbaijan the long lead times required to construct street circuits made hosting the events during a period of uncertainty impossible and in Japan, ongoing travel restrictions also led to the decision not to proceed with the race."

The eight races already announced earlier this month will take the 2020 season through to early September and F1 is then weighing whether to remain in Europe or venture further afield. Backup venues for additional races in Europe currently include options to race at Mugello or Imola in Italy, Portimao in Portugal and Hockenheim in Germany.

The promoters of the Russian Grand Prix have made clear they still intend to hold a grand prix and have offered the possibility of hosting two races over consecutive weekends. Along with Russia, China, Vietnam, the U.S.A., Mexico and Brazil are also still being considered, although F1 has not yet confirmed any of them and the prospect of races will largely depend on whether the spread of the virus is sufficiently under control in those territories when a decision is made in the coming weeks.

F1 will finish its season in the Middle East with races in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi, with the finale due to take place in mid-December at the latter.

This week, F1 motorsport director Ross Brawn also talked about the possibility of holding two races in Bahrain on different circuit layouts in order to increase the number of races.