F1 Hopeful of Beginning Season in July in Austria
As the United States and other countries begin to re-open their economy and loosen restrictions, the sports world begins to figure out the best way to get things back started. For Formula 1 fans, they will have to wait until July with CEO Chase Carey targeting a return to the track on July 5 in Europe.
As the series continues to shift their schedule around, Carey detailed a possible layout for the updated 2020 campaign, that would see them race throughout Europe through July, August, and the beginning of September. They would then transition to Eurasia, Asia, and the Americas in the three months after, before completing the season in the Gulf of Bahrain in December, with the traditional finale in Abu Dhabi. The goal is to have 15 to 18 races on the calendar.
“We expect the early races to be without fans but hope fans will be part of our events as we move further into the schedule,” Carey released in a statement. “We still have to work out many issues like the procedures for the teams and our other partners to enter and operate in each country. The health and safety of all involved will continue to be priority one and we will only go forward if we are confident we have reliable procedures to address both risks and possible issues.
“The FIA, teams, promoters, and other key partners have been working with us throughout these steps and we want to thank them for all their support and efforts during this incredibly challenging time. We also want to recognise the fact that the teams have been supporting us at the same time that they have been focusing enormous and heroic efforts to build ventilators to help those infected by COVID-19.”
The announcement from the series comes as no surprise, with Silverstone confirming the British GP will go forth without fans in attendance.
“I am extremely disappointed to tell you that we are unable to stage this year’s British Grand Prix in front of the fans at Silverstone,” Silverstone Chief Stuart Pringle said in a statement. “We have left this difficult decision for as long as possible, but it is abundantly clear given the current conditions in the country and the government requirements in place now and for the foreseeable future, that a Grand Prix under normal conditions is just not going to be possible.”
One of the events that will not be part of the revised calendar is the French Grand Prix, with organizers announcing an event cancellation, citing the government cancelling all sporting events through middle of July and travel restrictions.
Eric Boullier, Managing Director of the GIP Grand Prix de France – Le Castellet said, “Given the evolution of the situation linked to the spread of the Covid-19 virus, the French Grand Prix takes note of the decisions announced by the French State making it impossible to maintain our event. The eyes of the GIP Grand Prix de France – Le Castellet are already turning towards the summer of 2021 in order to offer our spectators an even more unprecedented event at the heart of the Région Sud.”
With the season delayed to July, FIA has elected to extend the Formula 1 Shutdown period from it’s original length of three weeks, which would normally take place in the summer months, to 60 days. The shutdown means departments such as design, research and development, production and build must down tools. A recent rule change extended the closure to power unit manufacturers, too, as rulemakers moved to cut costs.
The FIA added in the updated shutdown material that after 50 days of the shutdown, teams can use up to a maximum of 10 personnel “to work remotely on long lead time projects”. Teams must formally apply to use this option, and be approved before moving forward.
In speaking of the long-term future, Carey noted that they have been working with FIA and teams to strengthen the series’ future, with “an array of new technical, sporting, and financial regulations that will improve the competition and action on the track, and make it a healthier business for all involved.”
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