F1 Cancels Russian Grand Prix, Which Had Most-Watched Race Ever Last Year on ESPN

Formula One race was set for Sept. 25, 2022 — and then Russia invaded the Ukraine

Grand Prix of Russia

Formula One (F1) has scrapped the 2022 Russian Grand Prix following Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine. The race was supposed to run on Sept. 25.

Disney/ABC Sports had not yet selected which network the Russian Grand Prix would run on: ABC, ESPN or ESPN2 (or, we suppose, streaming service ESPN+), a person with knowledge of the plans told TheWrap. The past few years, the Russian Grand Prix has aired on ESPN2 — and last year, it was the most-watched (here, in the States) Russian Grand Prix ever. (It was not, however, among ESPN2’s most-watched F1 races of the year. The 2021 Grand Prix of Russia ranked eighth of 10.)

ESPN does not have a role in the scheduling or locations of F1 events, the person told us. That is all Formula One.

The 2021 Formula 1 season was the most-watched ever on American television. The 2021 Grand Prix of Russia on ESPN2 averaged 833,000 viewers, which was up 58% from the 2020 version (527,000 viewers, also on ESPN2).

Last year’s No. 1 race, the Monaco Grand Prix, averaged 969,000 viewers on ESPN2 — the cable channel’s most-watched F1 race ever. The race that ended the 2021 season — Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates — averaged 963,000 viewers. That’s ESPN2’s second-best Formula One performance ever.

All told, with races airing on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2, the 2021 F1 season averaged 934,000 viewers per race in 2021. That shattered the previous season-long record of an average of 748,000 viewers way back in 1995.

“The FIA Formula 1 World Championship visits countries all over the world with a positive vision to unite people, bringing nations together,” Formula 1 said in a Friday statement. “We are watching the developments in Ukraine with sadness and shock and hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to the present situation.”

The statement continued: “On Thursday evening Formula 1, the FIA, and the teams discussed the position of our sport, and the conclusion is, including the view of all relevant stakeholders, that it is impossible to hold the Russian Grand Prix in the current circumstances.”

Good on them.