Following the postponement of the Azerbaijan GP (8th races called off in a row), it is still unclear when and how the 2020 F1 season is going to happen.
Coronavirus has taken a toll on all sporting events in 2020, causing cancellations, delays and massive twists to their yearly schedules. However, F1 Chairman and CEO Chase Carey addressed the situation during this tough time for Europe, by stressing that the aim is to make a championship season happen this year.
With at least four races due to be rescheduled, F1 teams have agreed to take advantage of the restrictions imposed by governments and bring a compulsory 21-day “summer” shutdown forward to March and April. Hence, a rocket start to the season is on the horizon, utilizing the summer break and non-race weekends between July and August to slot in most of the lost events.
“While at present no-one can be certain of exactly when the situation will improve, it will improve and when it does, we will be ready to go racing again. We are all committed to bringing our fans a 2020 Championship Season”.
“We recognise there is significant potential for additional postponements in currently scheduled events, nonetheless we and our partners fully expect the season to start at some point this summer, with a revised calendar of between 15-18 races” said Carey.
“As previously announced we will utilise the summer break being brought forward to March/April, to race during the normal summer break period and anticipate the season end date will extend beyond our original end date of 27-29th November, with the actual sequence and schedule dates for races differing significantly from our original 2020 calendar”.
Although the drawing up of a revised calendar has been elaborated, the ever-evolving Coronavirus outbreak cannot allow F1 bosses and promoters to officialize it, as more races on the calendar might be called off shortly. The hypothesis of merging the 2020 and the 2021 seasons together, now that the new rules are set to be introduced in 2022, might not be ruled out. However, Carey is adamant that a 2020 championship can still take place and most of the races that failed to take place on schedule will be fulfilled.
“It is not possible to provide a more specific calendar now due to the fluidity of the current situation but we expect to gain clearer insights to the situation in each of our host countries, as well as the issues related to travel to these countries, in the coming month”.
“With the benefit of the FIA’s announcement and agreement in principle to freeze technical regulations throughout 2021, no summer break and factory shut downs being moved forward to March/April the sport now intends to race through the period normally set aside for the summer break and fulfil lost events from the first part of this year.”
“This flexibility offers an opportunity to evolve the sport, experiment and try new things. That may include initiatives such as expanding our esports platform, developing more innovative content like Netflix Drive to Survive and other creative ways to drive ongoing value for the sport’s sponsor partners, broadcast partners, race promoters, teams and fans – the ecosystem of our fantastic sport”.
Despite the ongoing pandemic, the racing world can still carry on. More space and visibility to the esports is expected, as F1 decided to replace all postponed and cancelled races with palliative virtual Grands Prix involving celebrities, sim racers and actual racing drivers.
More optimistic words strike on Carey’s statement, as F1’s priority is to “ensure that everyone invested in this sport at every level feels rewarded”.
“Between Formula 1, - he added - the teams and the FIA, working with our key stakeholders, we are planning and fully committed to returning to the track at the earliest opportunity to commence the 2020 season and will continue to take advice from health officials and experts, as our first priority continues to be the safety and health of our fans, the communities we visit and those within the Formula 1 family”.