Second Singapore F1 race emerges as possible Russian GP replacement

Formula 1 could hold a second race in Singapore should plans for Qatar to replace the cancelled Russian Grand Prix in September fall through, Autosport has learned.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF90 leads Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W10, Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF90, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG W10 and Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB15 at the start of the race

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, F1 announced the cancellation of the race in Sochi scheduled for 25 September, as well as terminating the grand prix’s contract.

It has left a gap on the initial 23-race calendar that F1 was looking to fill with a return to Qatar, which hosted its first grand prix last year at the Losail International Circuit.

Qatar signed a 10-year deal to host a grand prix starting from 2023, taking this year off due to the country hosting the FIFA World Cup. But it emerged as the strong favourite to replace the cancelled Russia race, kicking off the triple-header going that will take F1 onto Singapore and Japan.

But Autosport has now learned that some uncertainty from the event organisers in Qatar has led to alternative options being explored, including running two races in Singapore.

The idea has been discussed with the promoters in Singapore, which could possibly run the two races on consecutive weekends at Marina Bay Street Circuit at slightly different times of day, starting one at dusk before the other retains the traditional 8pm start for a full night race.

A similar approach was taken for the pair of races in Bahrain at the end of 2020, when the Sakhir Grand Prix started a few hours later than the Bahrain Grand Prix one week earlier.

Singapore has not hosted a grand prix since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but has recently reopened to tourists and plans are moving ahead for F1 to return on the scheduled 2 October weekend.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri AT02, Fernando Alonso, Alpine A521, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL35M, and the rest of the field away at the start

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri AT02, Fernando Alonso, Alpine A521, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL35M, and the rest of the field away at the start

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

F1 remains committed to ensuring its record 23-race calendar is fulfilled this year, with Singapore being just one possible alternative to replace Russia should a deal with Qatar not be finalised.

Another option could be to return to Bahrain to user the outer loop layout of the Bahrain International Circuit, which staged the Sakhir Grand Prix at the end of 2020.

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One of the biggest concerns for Qatar about hosting the replacement round is the heat at the end of September, when the average high is 38ºC during the day.

But the later running of the race would allay concerns about the heat, and has already been discussed with teams as being viable. The 2021 race started at 5pm local time, 15 minutes after sunset.

The proximity to the start of the World Cup on 21 November would also mean the grand prix could act as a further warm-up for Qatar to stage a major event.

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