F1 might have been handed a rather fitting reality check concerning the feasibility of a race calendar of 15-18 events. McLaren CEO Zak Brown believes the optimistic scenario drawn by Chase Carey will be scaled down soon, as the proximity of the Austrian double-header adds further pressure from an organisational standpoint.
"I don’t think there’s a guarantee that we’re going to get in as many races as we hope," Brown told the F1 Nation podcast.
“I think we will, but I don’t think that just because we’re going to race one that life’s back to normal. I think the caution is we’re going racing," he added. "I think we have to be very careful, very diligent, follow the rules, be very conservative" he said.
Eight races within a 10-week span have been confirmed, as further doubts have been cast over Asian and American races. It has been rumoured that next week an announcement is expected to determine the future of the Vietnam GP in 2020, whereas the picture from Texas appears blurrier.
“I think that what they learned in Europe was that they could kind of wait until the last possible minute to make a decision, and we’re not at the last possible minute yet for deciding about what it’s going to be here” said Bobby Epstein, chairman of the Circuit of the Americas.
“We don’t have a firm ‘it’s going to be with fans,’ ‘it’s going to be without,’ or whether it even makes sense to come over to the U.S.” he added.
Quarantine exemptions and the allowance of fans into the facility are the main issues COTA will need to work through to get closer to a confirmation. Epstein admitted that the race at Austin will depend on the number of fans, as sporting events can currently operate in Texas at 50% capacity.
“For a 20,000-person event, no problem, short notice. What we don’t want to do is gear up 100 days out—where we are now—for a lot of fans, build a lot of temporary structures for hospitality” he explained.
Amid the fear of a second wave, F1 is set to face its ultimate headache in September from a race at Mugello to Sochi and Portimao vying for a spot in the schedule.
According to German media outlet AmuS, Mugello will enter the F1 calendar following the Italian GP at Monza on September 6th. Ferrari’s 1000th race would hence be celebrated at the Italian venue, sending a message of rebirth following the lockdown.
However, major doubts have been cast over the continuation of the season with Sochi initially set for a double header and subsequently engaged in a power struggle against Portimao. The Portuguese track confirmed its ‘strong negotiations’ with F1, having emerged as a rather advantageous location owing to its facilities and the low Covid-19 impact in the country.
Hypothetically, the race at Portimao could either take place on September 27th (currently reserved for the Russian GP) or on October 4th.
Therefore, what shines through F1’s options is that further European solutions are being considered. As for timeframes and deadlines, it is understood that all decisions regarding September races are going to be taken in the month of July.