The Chinese Grand Prix has been cancelled for the fourth year in a row as the country tries to curb the spread of coronavirus with strict measures.

Formula 1 said the Shanghai event, scheduled for 16 April 2023, would not happen “due to ongoing difficulties presented by the COVID-19 situation”.

The sport is now facing a four-week hole in the calendar with the defunct round in China sandwiched between races in Melbourne on 2 April and Azerbaijan on 30 April.

But it is understood that F1 bosses are talking to a number of interested venues about filling the gap to ensure a record 24 rounds still go ahead.

A statement from F1 said: “Formula 1 can confirm, following dialogue with the promoter and relevant authorities, that the 2023 Chinese Grand Prix will not take place due to the ongoing difficulties presented by the COVID-19 situation.

“Formula 1 is assessing alternative options to replace the slot on the 2023 calendar and will provide an update on this in due course.”

The cancellation of the race in China marks the fourth successive season it has been scrubbed from the schedule, despite F1 extending its contract with the Chinese Grand Prix to 2025 just last year.

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The last time the race went ahead was in 2019, when it was won by Sir Lewis Hamilton on his way to his sixth world title.

F1 and local organisers had tried to find a solution to enable the 2023 race to go ahead but, with 10 teams and large numbers of people set to fly in, the obstacles were too great.

Its cancellation will come as a blow to Guanyu Zhou, China’s first and only F1 driver, who made his debut for Alfa Romeo this season and has yet to experience a home race.

Various alternatives have been touted in the media, including Portugal’s Portimao circuit that was used as a replacement in 2020 and 2021 for races cancelled during the pandemic.

The 2023 season is set to start in Bahrain on 5 March and conclude in Abu Dhabi on 26 November.

China has recently been rocked by protests over its stringent zero-COVID policies.

Rare scenes of open descent were seen in cities across the country, including Shanghai, as the ruling Communist Party continued with lockdowns and quarantine requirements.

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However some cities have now started to lift restrictions.

Less than 24 hours after violent protests in Guangzhou, officials in at least seven districts of the sprawling port city north of Hong Kong announced they were lifting lockdowns.

The softening stance follows quarantine protocols earlier in the year which saw entire communities locked down, sometimes for weeks, after just a single positive case was found.

National health officials said earlier in the week that China would respond to “urgent concerns” raised by the public and that COVID rules should be implemented more flexibly, according to the severity of outbreaks in each region.