F1 aiming for full race schedule next year; 2020 Vietnam GP officially off
Motor racing’s Formula 1 is hopeful of staging a full season of races in 2021 despite the ongoing uncertainty caused by the global coronavirus pandemic.
The current campaign has been heavily disrupted by the pandemic with several races cancelled, forcing the series to alter its calendar to include more grands prix in Europe.
Despite restrictions still in place in many countries, outgoing Formula 1 chief executive Chase Carey is keen to ensure all races on the 2021 calendar go ahead as planned.
Formula 1 had scheduled to stage a record 22 races this year but was forced to cut the number to 17 as the pandemic affected races in many countries, many outside Europe.
Carey is optimistic all 22 races can take place in 2021 with no disruptions and is also planning for fans to return to all venues.
He said yesterday: “We are going to plan for a 2021 calendar that, again, looks pretty much like a normal calendar, like the calendar we would have planned in January.
“We are planning for events, we are planning to have fans, we are planning to have a season that, I do not know if I would say is normal, but certainly gets us back to normal, closer to normal, on that track.”
As a result of the pandemic, the start of the 2020 Formula 1 season was delayed until the start of July.
Grands prix in Australia, China, Azerbaijan, Canada, Singapore, Japan, USA, Mexico and Brazil have all been cancelled, as have races in the Netherlands, France and Monaco.
Vietnam has now officially joined the list of casualties, with the organisers today announcing that the country’s inaugural race, which was set to take place in the capital of Hanoi, has been cancelled for this year.
So far this season, Formula 1 has held 11 races in Austria (two), Hungary, UK (two), Spain, Belgium, Italy (two), Russia and Germany.
The remaining six races are currently slated to be held in Portugal, Italy, Turkey, Bahrain (two) and Abu Dhabi.
Formula 1 has been forced to use several race tracks that do not normally feature on its calendar notably Mugello and Imola in Italy, Portimão in Portugal and Istanbul Park, the first visit to Turkey since 2011.
In July, the Hanoi People’s Committee, the ruling body of Vietnam’s capital city, publicly expressed confidence the country could host its first Formula 1 Grand Prix in late November after a seven-month delay.
The Vietnam Grand Prix was scheduled to take place on a street circuit in Hanoi on 5 April, but was postponed in March as the Covid-19 pandemic spread throughout the country.
However, race organisers have now conceded defeat in their attempts to stage the first-ever grand prix in the country this year.
The Vietnam Grand Prix Corporation today said: "This was a very difficult decision for all of us to make but ultimately it was the only solution after carefully reviewing all safety criteria as well as the efficiency under current conditions."
Vietnam has recorded more than 1,110 coronavirus infections, with 35 deaths, according to the country's health ministry data.
The 2020 season continues next weekend with the Portuguese Grand Prix at Portimão.