Formula 1 has today (Tuesday) confirmed that its 2020 season will commence in Austria next month, part of an eight-race European swing as it maintained its ambition to stage between 15 to 18 races in total.
The escalating Covid-19 crisis forced the motor-racing championship to cancel the Australian Grand Prix on the eve of its season-opening event on March 15, triggering a wave of further postponements or outright cancellations.
F1 in April outlined plans to commence its delayed 2020 season in Austria on July 3-5 as part of a reduced calendar consisting of 15-to-18 races, but did not issue a formal schedule at the time. This has been released today, with the season kicking off with a double-header at Austria’s Red Bull Ring on July 5 and 12.
The Hungarian GP in Budapest will follow a week after that, before a break. There will then be two back-to-back races at Silverstone in the UK (August 2 and 9), the latter of which will be named the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix. The Spanish GP will take place in Barcelona on August 16, before the championship heads to Spa-Francorchamps for the Belgian GP on August 30 and Monza for the Italian GP on September 6.
The publication of the calendar comes after the Austrian government at the weekend gave Formula 1 the green light to commence its 2020 season behind closed doors with two races at the Red Bull Ring, while Silverstone was said to have been granted an exemption from the government’s plan to implement a 14-day quarantine period for those entering the UK.
Due to the ongoing fluidity of the Covid-19 situation internationally, Formula 1 today said it will be finalising the details of the wider calendar and hopes to publish that in the coming weeks with an expectation of having a total of 15 to 18 races before completing the season in December.
The BBC reports that F1 is highly confident it will be able to finish its season in Bahrain on December 6 and Abu Dhabi, home of the traditional final race, on December 13. The low incidence of Covid-19 in China, Vietnam and Japan is also said to make races in those countries a strong possibility for October. Vietnam was due to host its maiden F1 race on April 5 in Hanoi.
Formula 1 said it currently expects the opening races to be closed events but hopes fans will be able to attend again when it is safe to do so.
Chase Carey, chairman and chief executive of Formula 1, said: “In the past weeks we have been working tirelessly with all our partners, the FIA and the teams to create a revised opening 2020 calendar allowing us to restart racing in the safest possible way.
“We are pleased to be able to set out our opening eight race calendar today and look forward to publishing our full calendar in the coming weeks. While we currently expect the season to commence without fans at our races we hope that over the coming months the situation will allow us to welcome them back once it is safe to do, but we know the return of Formula 1 will be a welcome boost to sports fans around the world.”