The 2020 Formula One season is currently comprised of 8 races…not quite the ‘largest season for many years’ as advertised but we of course all know why that is. In the past week, Azerbaijan, Singapore and (somewhat surprisingly) Japan all signalled their intent to not hold an F1 event in 2020. As such, the claim of 13 to 15 races making up the calendar has led to Mugello joining the discussion but today an existing track from the original 2020 calendar has made the headlines as not only being in the running for a single race but a double header – which is what the 2020 F1 season will certainly be remembered for. The track in question is Shanghai International Circuit and the statement released today is presented below.
Shanghai Sports Bureau Director Xu Bin spoke to Shanghai People's Radio on Monday and the discussion revealed how Shanghai has a clear desire to hold an F1 race:
"International sport organisations care a lot about these world-class sport events in China and Shanghai.”
Shanghai annually plays host to the best tennis superstars, golf players and snooker players in the world. Formula One is by no means its only major event of the year.
"Despite a lot of changes of our events due to the pandemic, we have received support from international sport organisations and national associations for some of our events.”
"We would be allowed to hold the events in Shanghai at a suitable time in the second half of the year, depending on the situation of the pandemic."
Encouraging news on two fronts. First, in that this would see the Championship head to a continent other than Europe, which for the purists is what many hope to see. Secondly, due to being held in the second half of the year, there is a chance that fans, in some way, may be permitted to attend. Seeing how Shanghai International Circuit only has two main grandstands that are used – seeing how the infamous Anting stand is more of an advert for the area than a place for spectators - one can imagine the marshalling of citizens in a social distancing style would be achievable.
However, Mr Xu did not stop there with his remarks and when asked about the possibility of back-to-back races, responded with:
"No decision has been made yet. It's proposed by FOM [Formula One Management]. F1 has announced they will resume the opening eight European races, without any round in Asia. The event originally scheduled...has been postponed to the second half of the year.”
"During the discussion, FOM asked whether we could host two races in Shanghai. It's not been decided. It will depend on the situation of pandemic."
Having featured so prominently in 2019 as having the honour of holding the 1000th F1 Grand Prix, there was renewed interest in Formula One in China and the announcement of its original April date being called off in the early stages of what became a global pandemic led many to question its future.
Obviously, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it challenging to look to far ahead and there is always the concern of the much talked about ‘second wave’.
For now though, maybe there is a glimmer of hope for an F1 Grand Prix that many thought was lost to the season and at times like this, hope is all we can ask for.