As deadline day draws ever nearer...to Lando Norris shaving his head for charity (not an April Fools’ joke), Silverstone has set their own deadline. Not a day goes by now without a major motion picture, music tour or sporting event being postponed or even cancelled as a result of combatting COVID-19. Formula One, as a global event in every sense of the word, seems to be taking the biggest hit of all sports (though, one or two Olympians may disagree). Obviously, in these times of coming together for a greater cause, a delay to a race is hardly going to hit the headlines and nor should it – but nonetheless, here is the official statement released by Silverstone today.
“Silverstone and Formula 1 remain in close dialogue regarding the ongoing situation and are assessing the feasibility of holding the British Grand Prix on 17-19 July,”
“We fully appreciate that other UK sporting events in July have taken decisions regarding their events, but it is important to highlight that their logistics and sporting arrangements differ from Silverstone’s and, therefore, our timeline gives us until the end of April to make a final decision.
“The safety of our fans, colleagues and the F1 community will be our priority and we will continue to engage with the appropriate authorities.”
Despite this statement, the signs do not look good for the 2020 Formula One season due to the fact that the first eight races of the scheduled calendar have either been postponed or cancelled due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Chase Carey and Liberty Media’s latest remarks on the issue made clear that they are hoping to stage a 15-to-18-race calendar over the remainder of the year and as we all know – only 8 races are needed for a Championship season to be valid.
Already though, doubt has arisen over the Canadian Grand Prix taking place as planned. Let’s not forget that Canada announced they would not send any athletes to the 2020 Olympics – prior to the event being postponed to 2021. Therefore, if the French Grand Prix scheduled for June 28th (which suddenly sounds very close indeed) is a realistic target to start the season – when is that circuit likely to set a deadline?
"We could basically try to go to the 20th of June and see if we have to cancel it or not," French Grand Prix managing director Eric Boullier told Racer. "But operationally we might have to downsize the capacity at some stage because we will not have enough time anymore to build enough grandstands, for example. So that's our only limitation, but we don't have an exact deadline, let's say."
All that is certain – is uncertainty.
For now, the focus needs to be on flattening the curve of COVID-19 cases and if there are to be more months without any on track action – many a fan will surely appreciate it more when it does return. The same though can also be said of many aspects of everyday life as we wait for this situation to pass.
Stay safe, stay healthy, stay inside and…why not stay positive that we will see F1 racing in 2020.