'Eight-race European start' for delayed F1 season
Formula 1 motor racing is putting plans in place to stage eight races behind closed doors in Europe to begin its delayed 2020 season, it has been reported.
The plan has been drawn up by Liberty Media, the US media giant and owner of Formula 1, and is likely to be announced next week, according to the UK’s Guardian newspaper.
The start of the season has been delayed because of the global coronavirus pandemic, but, as expected, there are plans to get under way on 5 July with the first of two races in Austria and be followed by two in Silverstone in the UK and the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest.
It is reported Germany (Hockenheim) or Spain (Barcelona) would then kick off a trio of races from August to September, with Belgium (Spa-Francorchamps) and Italy (Monza) to follow. However, it is understood there are no plans to reschedule the Dutch Grand Prix, which was set to return, at Zandvoort, this year.
Despite Liberty’s plan, there are growing doubts over whether the British rounds will be able to take place this year because of issues relating to the UK government's quarantine policy.
Silverstone had reached an agreement with Formula 1 to stage two successive races, likely in late July and early August.
However, new government rules call for all travellers from overseas to be quarantined for 14 days on arrival. This would mean the first British race could not be held less than two weeks after the proposed double-header in Austria in the first half of July.
It is understood that the sport has been lobbying the UK government over the past few days for an exemption to the quarantine for its teams and personnel but if the restriction is enforced in the UK, the races at Silverstone will not be staged, with Hockenheim slated as an alternative venue for two events.
A second coronavirus spike in the UK would almost certainly lead to the curtailment of the 2020 season as seven of the 10 Formula 1 teams are based in the country.
The Guardian claims that a revised Formula 1 calendar will be put in place “by the end of next week.”
The sport is still in discussions regarding races outside of Europe as it remains hopeful of having a season with between 15 and 18 races, ending in mid-December in Abu Dhabi.