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Carey outlines plan for reduced F1 calendar

Chase Carey, CEO and Executive Chairman of the Formula One Group, talks as a press conference is held before the 2020 Australian Grand Prix was cancelled (by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Formula 1 chief executive Chase Carey has said the motor-racing championship is targeting a revised 2020 calendar of between 15 and 18 races, adding that the current situation surrounding Covid-19 gives officials the chance to “evolve the sport, experiment and try new things”.

 The Azerbaijan Grand Prix yesterday (Monday) became the latest stop on the 2020 calendar to be postponed because of the global spread of the pandemic. Race organiser Baku City Circuit said that it had postponed the race, which was due to be held on June 7, becoming the eighth Formula 1 grand prix to be called off this season. The 2020 campaign was due to include a record 22 events.

The earliest the 2020 season can now begin appears to be in Montreal, Canada on June 14. Races in Australia, Bahrain, China, the Netherlands, Spain and Vietnam have already been postponed and the iconic Monaco Grand Prix has been cancelled altogether.

Updating the situation, Carey said: “While at present no-one can be certain of exactly when the situation will improve, it will improve and when it does, we will be ready to go racing again. We are all committed to bringing our fans a 2020 championship season.

“We recognise there is significant potential for additional postponements in currently scheduled events, nonetheless we and our partners fully expect the season to start at some point this summer, with a revised calendar of between 15-18 races.

“As previously announced we will utilise the summer break being brought forward to March/April to race during the normal summer break period, and anticipate the season end date will extend beyond our original end date of 27-29th November, with the actual sequence and schedule dates for races differing significantly from our original 2020 calendar.

“It is not possible to provide a more specific calendar now due to the fluidity of the current situation but we expect to gain clearer insights to the situation in each of our host countries, as well as the issues related to travel to these countries, in the coming month.”

The current situation has also led to the International Automobile Federation (FIA), F1 and all 10 teams unanimously agreeing to delay the introduction of the sport’s 2021 technical regulations by a year to 2022.

F1 said last week that it hoped the delay will ease the financial burden on teams at a time when income may be reduced due to race postponements. The set of new regulations that will seek to overhaul the championship from the 2021 season, headlined by the introduction of the sport’s first cost cap, were first unveiled in October.

Carey yesterday talked up the potential for F1 to use the current state of play to its advantage, with Friday’s announcement of a new Esports Virtual Grand Prix series, which will feature a range of current drivers, an example of the creative thinking that can be implemented.

He added: “With the benefit of the FIA’s announcement and agreement in principle to freeze technical regulations throughout 2021, no summer break and factory shut downs being moved forward to March/April the sport now intends to race through the period normally set aside for the summer break and fulfil lost events from the first part of this year.

“This flexibility offers an opportunity to evolve the sport, experiment and try new things. That may include initiatives such as expanding our esports platform, developing more innovative content like Netflix’s Drive to Survive, and other creative ways to drive ongoing value for the sport’s sponsor partners, broadcast partners, race promoters, teams and fans – the ecosystem of our fantastic sport.”