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UPDATE 2-Motor racing-Turkey back on F1 calendar as Chinese GP is axed

* Turkish GP returns for first time since 2011

* Chinese Grand Prix cancelled

* Bahrain to host two races

* Championship of 17 races (Adds Turkey reaction)

LONDON, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Formula One fleshed out its 2020 calendar to 17 races on Tuesday, with the Chinese Grand Prix cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic but Turkey back on for the first time since 2011 and Bahrain handed two rounds.

The sport said in a statement that Turkey’s Istanbul Park circuit would host a race on Nov. 15 before a Bahrain double in late November and early December and Abu Dhabi ending the season on Dec. 13 at Yas Marina.

A limited number of fans, and hospitality, will be able to attend some of the races. Russian Grand Prix organisers are already selling tickets for their race in Sochi in September.

All six grands prix held so far since the delayed season started in Austria in July have been held behind closed doors.

Formula One had confirmed only 13 races until Tuesday, all of them in Europe after those in the Americas were cancelled, but teams and drivers now have a clear idea of how many the championship will have.

The original schedule, published before the pandemic, envisaged a record 22 races, but fixtures such as Monaco had to be cancelled and a new calendar drawn up with a mix of old favourites and new venues.

China’s race in Shanghai had looked doubtful for some time due to the virus.

The first Vietnamese Grand Prix, postponed from April, will not be happening either although its cancellation has yet to be confirmed officially.

“Sadly, we will not be racing in China this season,” Formula One said, adding that it looked forward to returning next year.

Japan, Singapore, Azerbaijan and Australia have already been cancelled.

‘GREAT HAPPINESS’

Turkey will be the only race on this year’s calendar that could be considered a non-European or Middle Eastern round, since the circuit is on the Asian side of Istanbul.

“We feel great happiness and honour to have brought Formula One, the biggest motor sporting event in the world, to Turkey once again,” said Vural Ak, chairman of Intercity, which operates the Turkish circuit.

“One of the most important factors behind the Formula One administration adding Istanbul to the calendar is that in the nine years races weren’t held, the circuit was active and ready at all times as if a race was going to take place.”

Istanbul’s circuit was popular with drivers if not the locals whose attendance was limited. The only current drivers to have won there are Kimi Raikkonen, six times world champion Lewis Hamilton and four times champion Sebastian Vettel.

“It’s an old-school circuit, something I was watching on TV when I was younger. (That) massive left-hander, flat-out, is going to be pretty impressive,” Renault’s Esteban Ocon told reporters recently.

Bahrain’s two races on Nov. 29 and Dec. 6 will be designated the Bahrain Grand Prix and the Sakhir Grand Prix, after the name of the desert circuit.

Sakhir will be the third circuit to host two races this season after Austria’s Red Bull Ring and Britain’s Silverstone. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Ken Ferris)

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