Thursday 17 February 2011

Looking back: F1's Phantom Races

There's been lots of coverage today of unrest and protests in Bahrain, and (in our blinkered F1 mindset) the possibility of the cancellation of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix in March.

That got me thinking (taking the blinkered F1 mindset to its logical conclusion) about F1's previous when it comes to cancelling races, so I sought to list such instances. The list (see below) turned out to be surprisingly extensive, and up until the mid-1980s F1 calendars were often astonishingly fluid by modern standards.

It probably won't surprise you that most of the cancellations were due to money running out, though there are also some gems in there. The Belgian Grand Prix of 1985 was famously postponed for three months after the fraternity took part in the first practice and found the track crumbling as a result (a fuller account is here). My personal favourite though is that in 1983 a 'Swiss Grand Prix' at Dijon (another way of describing a second French Grand Prix of the year) was canned after French television refused to provide coverage of two races in a season!

A number of races in 1955 were cancelled in the wake of the Le Mans disaster, when racing understandably wasn't flavour of the month and many countries banned all motor sport activity (in the case of Switzerland, permanently). A New York GP, to be held in Flushing Meadows, appeared on the calendar three times on the spin in the early 1980s - and we're still waiting on that one. And a special pat on the back for the Pedralbes street circuit in Barcelona, who racked up no fewer than four cancellations, against the two occasions that they actually managed to put on a race (in 1951 and 1954). Bernie would never show such patience.

I make no claim to my list of cancelled races being a definitive one, and would be delighted to hear of any cases that I've missed. Anyway, deep breath, here's the list I was able to come up with:

1952: Spanish GP; Pedralbes, October 26
1953: Spanish GP; Pedralbes, October 26
1954: Dutch GP; Zandvoort, June 6
1955: French GP; Rheims, July 3
1955: German GP; Nürburgring, July 31
1955: Swiss GP; Bremgarten, August 21
1955: Spanish GP; Pedralbes, October 23
1957: Belgian GP; Spa Francorschamps, June 2
1957: Dutch GP; Zandvoort, June 16
1957: Spanish GP; Pedralbes, October 20
1959: Argentine GP; Buenos Aires, January 25
1959: Belgian GP; Spa Francorschamps, June 14
1959: Moroccan GP; Ain Diab (Cassablanca), October 11
1960: Moroccan GP; Ain Diab (Cassablanca), October ?
1961: Moroccan GP; Ain Diab (Cassablanca), October 29
1965: Austrian GP; Zeltweg, August 22
1969: Belgian GP; Spa Francorschamps, June 8
1971: Belgian GP; Spa Francorschamps, June 6
1971: Mexican GP; Mexico City, October 24
1972: U.S.A. West GP; Ontario Motor Speedway, April 9
1972: Dutch GP; Zandvoort, June 18
1972: Mexican GP; Mexico City, October 22
1975: Canadian GP; Mosport, September 21
1976: Argentine GP; Buenos Aires, January 11
1978: Japanese GP; Fuji, April 16
1979: Swedish GP; Anderstorp, June 16
1980: Mexican GP; Mexico City, April 13
1980: Although the Spanish GP at Jarama took place on June 1 FIA declared that the race was illegal and no points were awarded
1980: Swedish GP; Anderstorp, June 14
1980: U.S.A. GP; Las Vegas, November 2
1981: South African GP; Kyalami, February 7 (although it took place with FOCA-aligned teams only under Formula Libre regulations, no championship points were awarded)
1981: U.S.A. (East) GP, Watkins Glen, October 4
1982: Argentine GP; Buenos Aires, March 7
1982: Spanish GP; Jarama, June 27
1983: Swiss GP; Dijon, July 10
1983: U.S.A. GP; New York, September 25 (replaced by a 'European GP' at Brands Hatch)
1983: U.S.A. GP; Las Vegas, October 9
1984: U.S.A. GP; New York, September 23
1984: Spanish GP; Fuengirola, October 21 (replaced by Portuguese GP at Estoril)
1985: Belgian GP; Spa Francorschamps, June 2 (though rescheduled for 15 September)
1985: U.S.A. GP; New York, September 22 (replaced by a 'European GP' at Brands Hatch on 6 October)
1986: Argentine GP; Buenos Aires, 9 March
1987: Canadian GP; Montreal, 14 June
1993: Asian GP (Japan); Autopolis, April 11 (replaced by a 'European GP' at Donnington Park)
1994: Argentine GP; Buenos Aires, October 16 (replaced by 'European GP' at Jerez)
1995: Pacific GP (Japan); Aida, April 16 (postponed due to Kobe earthquake, and rescheduled for October 22)
1997: Portuguese GP; Estoril, November 9 (replaced by 'European GP' at Jerez)
1999: Chinese GP; Zhuhai, March 21
2006: Belgian GP; Spa Francorschamps, September 17
2009: Canadian GP; Montreal, June 7
2009: French GP, Magny-Cours, June 28


  1. 1998 Portuguese Grand Prix at Estoril was also cancelled when the upgrading work could not be completed in time.

  2. There was an Austrian GP planned for 1988 but cancelled due to problems improving the track after the 1987 event.

    The 1982 Dutch GP was called off then reinstated when the Spanish GP was cancelled.

    I've got the feeling there was a planned race in the USA sometime in the 1990s that was pencilled into the calendar.

  3. My list of cancelled and postponed races in Formula 1 The Knowledge book is almost complete. I have found a couple of others since publication.

  4. You can now also add all cancelled races due to Corona in 2020, 2021 and 2022...

  5. 1960: Moroccan GP was scheduled for 1 October, cancelled because of monetary reasons.

  6. More cancelled races in the following book by David Hayhoe: Formula 1 The Knowledge 2nd Edition 2021

  7. There were some more scheduled and Cancelled races in 1986 there were races scheduled for Road America (USA), Yugoslavia, Sweden (which was earmarked to return due to the emergence of Stefan Johansson), Holland (which would have moved to Assen and a late September slot) and Jarama (Europe) which would have replaced South Africa

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