How does the calendar evolve for 2020?

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The 2020 FIA Formula 1 World Championship is set to break an important record of the 70-year-old history of the sport by featuring an unprecedented 22 grands prix.

The sport’s 71th season gets underway with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 15 and, as usual, it will end with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on November 29. In between the season-opening and –ending races, the championship will be contested over twenty other races, leading to a calendar which features a record-breaking 22 races assuming that the Chinese Grand Prix will be held despite to the ongoing health issues in the Asian country.

The 2020 calendar includes two new additions, the Vietnamese Grand Prix which will be held at a street circuit in Hanoi during April, and the Dutch Grand Prix, which is returning to the schedule following a 35-year absence.

After the season-opening race in Australia, the field will move to the Middle East for the Bahrain Grand Prix which will be held for the 16th time. The field will then travel to the Far East for the Vietnamese and the Chinese Grand Prix.

The European leg of the championship will set off with the returning Dutch Grand Prix which will be held at the reshaped Zandvoort circuit. Just a week after the home race of Max Verstappen, the sport moves to Barcelona. The Monaco Grand Prix will be held a week earlier than usual, avoiding a clash with the 2020 Indy 500 weekend. June will be another busy month for teams and drivers with the trio of the Azerbaijan, Canadian and the French Grand Prix, leading to frequent and long travelling.

The Austrian Grand Prix will be staged a week later than in the previous two years followed by the British Grand Prix. With the departure of the German Grand Prix, July will only include two races before drivers compete at the Hungaroring located just outside of the beautiful Budapest for the last time ahead of the summer break.

As usual, the Belgian Grand Prix will kick off the second half of the season at the end of August. Just a week after the race at Spa, drivers will head to Monza for the Italian Grand Prix which brings the European leg of the season to an end.

Just as June, September will also be an aciton-packed month because it features two other races with the Singapore and the Russian Grand Prix. The next two months will see the field travel long distances as the Japanese, United States, Mexico and the Brazilian Grand Prix form a thrilling final part for the championship.

As usual, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will bring the season to an end. In contrast to last year, the season-ending race is set to be staged earlier as the finale will be held at the end of November instead of early December as it happened in 2019.

Ever-expanding calendar

Formula 1’s calandar has evolved massively since the sport was born back in 1950. The inaugural year of the championship featured a seven-race calendar. The 1958 season was the first championship which has been contested over more than ten races, albeit no season exceeded the maximum number of twelve events until the 1969. The late ’70s saw the calendar expand further with the 1977 season setting a new record with 17 events. Interestingly, the next decade saw a slight drop in terms of the number of races while eight season during the ’90s featured 16 races with only two years reaching the then record of seventeen events.

Fans and drivers had to wait for a new record until 2004 as the last championship year of Ferrari’s recent domination was contested over 18 races. However, that record was a short-lived one as 2005 re-wrote the history books by featuring 19 races.

The calendar first reached the previously magical-looking number of twenty races in 2012. The record lasted four years as the 2016 season featured 21 races in total which was repeated in the last two years.

The forthcoming season looks set to register a new benchmark regarding the length of the championship. However, the new record may not last long. Last Autumn, Formula 1 has agreed with the teams to increase the maximum number of races in a season to 25 from 2021 onward as a result of changes to the race weekend schedule. The sport’s Commercial Rights’ Holder Liberty Media is working on brining new venues into the sport including a second race both in China and the United States of America and a return to both Argentina and the continent of Africa. However, FIA President Jean Todt added that "it will be a long process before being close to 25 races."