F1 confident of restart plans, with Austria GP on July 5 as first race
Austria GP on July 5, which will take place without fans, has become first race of revised calendar
Formula One hopes to start its delayed 2020 season in Austria in July without spectators, before ending in Abu Dhabi in December after races in Asia and the Americas, chairman and CEO Chase Carey said yesterday.
The opening race at the Red Bull Ring, belonging to the Austrian energy drink company that owns two of the 10 teams on the starting grid, would be held as planned over the July 3-5 weekend.
The French Grand Prix at Le Castellet from June 26-28 was cancelled earlier yesterday, becoming the 10th race to be hit by the Covid-19 pandemic in what was to have been a record 22-round season.
"We are now increasingly confident with the progress of our plans to begin our season this summer," said Carey in a statement. "We're targeting a start to racing in Europe through July, August and (the) beginning of September.
"September, October and November would see us race in Eurasia, Asia and the Americas, finishing the season in the Gulf in December with Bahrain before the traditional finale in Abu Dhabi, having completed between 15-18 races."
Carey said Formula One had been working closely with teams and promoters and a definitive calendar would be published as soon as possible.
Other races still hoping to be rescheduled are Vietnam, China, Azerbaijan, Spain, Holland and Canada.
"We expect the early races to be without fans but hope fans will be part of our events as we move further into the schedule," said Carey.
"We still have to work out many issues like the procedures for the teams and our other partners to enter and operate in each country."
The American, who represents US-based commercial rights holders Liberty Media, said health and safety would remain the top priorities.
"We will only go forward if we are confident we have reliable procedures to address both risks and possible issues," he said.
Formula One teams are on a factory shutdown, with the August break cancelled to allow a rescheduling of races. Five of the seven Britain-based teams are furloughing staff in response to the crisis.
Austria had earlier said it is open to running the GP as scheduled, but behind closed doors.
France has banned major events until mid-July, as well as having travel restrictions on some foreign visitors, making it impossible for the French GP to go ahead.
Monaco, which was initially scheduled for next month, has already been cancelled, with the March 15 Australian opener called off just hours before the first practice session.
There has been talk of Austria and Britain each hosting two races to make up the numbers, but Carey did not address that possibility.
Britain, a home race for most teams as well as Mercedes' six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, is scheduled for July 19, but organisers said that could only be behind closed doors.
"I am extremely disappointed to tell you that we are unable to stage this year's British Grand Prix in front of the fans at Silverstone," said Silverstone managing director, Stuart Pringle, in a message to fans.
"It is abundantly clear, given the current conditions in the country and the government requirements in place now and for the foreseeable future, that a Grand Prix under normal conditions is just not going to be possible.
"Our obligations to protect the health and safety of everyone involved in preparing and delivering the event... means that this is the best, safest and only decision we could make."
According to F1's new calendar, the Asian races - which comprise those in Singapore and Japan - are tentatively slotted in September and October.
When contacted, a Singapore GP spokesman said they are monitoring the situation closely and maintaining an open dialogue with Formula 1, the Singapore Government and stakeholders over this year's race, which is scheduled from Sept 18-20.
"The Formula 1 calendar for the 2020 season is currently being reviewed. We will update our ticketholders on any developments as soon as the information is available," said the spokesman, adding that their top priority is still the health and safety of patrons, spectators, crew and staff. - REUTERS
F1'S TARGETED CALENDAR
Dec: Middle East