- F1 confirms rescheduled eight-race European calendar
- Positive driver test would not lead to races being cancelled
Giles Richards – The Guardian
Formula One has confirmed its rescheduled calendar for the European leg of the 2020 season, with racing to begin in Austria in July. After 10 race cancellations, the sport has settled on its plan for eight meetings, all behind closed doors. The British Grand Prix at Silverstone is included for August but its confirmation remains subject to UK government coronavirus restrictions.
The season will open with two races at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, on 5 and 12 July, before the teams head directly to Hungary for a third meeting on 19 July. The British Grand Prix will be held on 2 August and Silverstone’s second race, designated the 70th Anniversary GP, will be on 9 August. The race is named to mark the first round of the opening championship held in 1950 at Silverstone.
Barcelona will then stage the Spanish Grand Prix on 16 August. Only the British GP will be shown on free‑to‑air TV in the UK, on Channel 4.
It is understood F1 has been assured the UK government will allow the sport an exemption to its current quarantine entry rules in order for the races to take place at Silverstone.
Stuart Pringle, the managing director of Silverstone, acknowledged the efforts of F1 and the government. “Huge credit to F1, it’s been an incredibly difficult task to try and work out where they can go on a timescale that is realistic,” he said. “Also credit to the government, who have been hugely supportive in getting sport back under way. It has been fully appreciated [as is] its importance to business and industry, because it’s not just about a glossy race, it’s about an industry with 40,000 jobs that sit behind it.”
The second race in Austria will be called the Steiermark Grand Prix, after the region where it will be held. This will be first time F1 has had two races staged at the same circuit in the same season and the first time it has held races behind closed doors. Austria has never hosted the opening round of a season.
Spa and Monza will conclude the European meetings with races scheduled for 30 August and 6 September, the dates they originally held in the calendar.
“Due to the fluidity of the Covid-19 situation internationally, we will be finalising the details of the wider calendar and hope to publish that in the coming weeks, with an expectation of having a total of 15-18 races before we complete our season in December,” F1 said.
“We currently expect the opening races to be closed events but hope fans will be able to join our events again when it is safe to do so. The opening calendar will include holding two consecutive events at the same circuit one week apart as well as a number of back-to-back events.”
Chase Carey, F1’s chief executive, said: “While we currently expect the season to commence without fans at our races, we hope that over the coming months the situation will allow us to welcome them back once it is safe to do so. But we know the return of Formula One will be a welcome boost to sports fans around the world.”
Carey has also told F1’s official website that races will go ahead even if a driver tests positive for Covid-19. “An individual having been found with a positive infection will not lead to a cancellation of a race,” Carey said. “We encourage teams to have procedures in place to quarantine them at a hotel and to replace that individual … If a driver has an infection, [the teams have] reserve drivers available.”
The president of the FIA, Jean Todt, praised the efforts of the sport to return, citing “unprecedented actions to resume the championship in the best possible conditions”.
The only time F1 has previously held three races in consecutive weeks was in 2018 with the French, Austrian and British grands prix. The sequence proved to be wearing on the teams and the intent was not to repeat it. However, with time limited to achieve as much racing as possible this season, it has accepted multiple three‑race runs. More are expected when the season visits Asia and the Americas.
Canada and Singapore remain under consideration, before proposed meetings in Azerbaijan, Russia, China, Japan, USA, Mexico, Brazil, Vietnam, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.