Written by Hugh Waring
The Shanghai International Circuit regains top FIA licence as F1 Chinese GP targets 2024 return
Shanghai International Circuit has been granted a Grade One licence by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), allowing it to host Formula 1 races once again. The Chinese Grand Prix is expected to make a comeback in 2024 after a hiatus due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The previous licence held by Shanghai International Circuit expired at the end of 2019, just before the global health crisis disrupted travel and inspections. The FIA was unable to complete the necessary inspection at that time. However, the circuit manager, Juss Sports, has since reported that remedial and maintenance work has been conducted around the circuit since last year.
Significant efforts have been made to address the blemishes on the track surface, partially repair tire walls, repaint the underground connecting tunnel, refresh the grandstand seats, and improve the outfield area. These repairs were undertaken following an assessment by the Federation of Automobile and Motorcycle Sports of China (CAMF) in August 2022.
As a result of the repair work, Shanghai International Circuit has been reinstated with a three-year FIA Grade One licence, the highest level required to host Formula 1 races and testing. Currently, it is the only track in China capable of holding a grand prix event.
The Chinese Grand Prix was originally scheduled for April 16, 2023, as part of the 2023 F1 calendar. However, due to strict Chinese COVID-19 policies and subsequent lockdowns in some regions of the country, the race was cancelled. This decision created a four-week gap between the Australian and Azerbaijan races.
If everything goes as planned, an FIA inspector will return to Shanghai International Circuit one month before the anticipated 2024 event to conduct the final examination. Local organisers have already secured a contract extension until 2025 following negotiations in late 2021. The Chinese Grand Prix has not been held since 2019, which marked the 1000th world championship race.
To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the first F1 race in China, the local race promoter is working towards organizing celebratory events if the Chinese Grand Prix receives the green light for 2024.