Formula 1 motorsport boss Ross Brawn refuses to disclose the sport’s plans for the delayed 2020 season as he thinks the championship is hanging in the balance.
While various motorsport series have issued an updated calendar after the delayed start to the year, Formula 1 is yet to announce its concrete plans. However, with the situation changing day by day, it is almost impossible and unnecessary to create a provisional calendar that would almost certainly need to be tweaked.
During a video conference with Sky Sport, Ross Brawn said that the Formula 1 organization is working tirelessly on a wide variety of plans to prepare itself to the time when the world returns to normal and racing can finally kick off. According to the FIA regulations, the F1 season has to consist of at least eight races that have to be staged on three different continents to maintain its championship status.
Formula 1 Chairman and CEO, Chase Carey said earlier that it is still possible to target a number of 15 to 18 races this year even with a long delay to the season. Brawn is confident that the championship is not under threat because the season can run into January if the championship needs to be kept on hold for much longer.
“Eight races is the minimum we can have a world championship, [according to] the FIA Statutes. We could achieve eight races by starting in October. So if you wanted a drop dead point it would be October. But then there is always the possibility we could run into next year. That’s being explored. Can we stray into January to finish the season? There are all sorts of complications, as you can imagine, with that.”
“If we were able to start at the beginning of July we could do a 19-race season. [It would be] tough - three races on, one weekend off, three races on, one weekend off. We have looked at all the logistics, and we think we can hold an 18-19 race season if we can get started at the beginning of July. The choice is between those two numbers.”European start behind closed doors?
Even if the COVID-19 pandemic shows signs of improvements, travel restrictions can result in major complications for people to get to race locations. As many other sport events and championships, Formula 1 is also unable to generate income in this time when no races take place. With no revenue, the pressure is mounting for the Commercial Rights’ Holder of the sport to prevent that teams face irreversible financial consequences caused by the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
Brawn echoed the words of Carey, stating that it is highly likely that the 2020 season kicks off in Europe and races behind closed doors are also on the table.
“Our view is probably a European start will be favourable and that could even be a closed event. We could have a very enclosed environment, where teams come in on charters, we channel them into the circuit, we make sure everyone is tested, cleared and that there is no risk to anyone.
“We have a race with no spectators. That’s not great, but it’s better than no racing at all. We have to remember there are millions of people who follow the sport sat at home. A lot of them are isolating and to be able to keep the sport alive and put on a sport and entertain people would be a huge bonus in this crisis we have. But we can’t put anyone at risk.
The first major setback came after the Chinese Grand Prix had been postponed. The move was then followed by further postponements and cancellations as the situation has gradually worsened. While the Australian and the Monaco Grands Prix have been cancelled and could only make a return in 2021, the other races can be rescheduled later in the year. If that will be the case, the sport faces a rather congested calendar that can result in shortened race weekends.
“We may have some two-day races in order to meet the logistical needs. For instance China looks like it will probably be a two-day race if we go ahead with it because to get there and get away to the next event we are planning, it could easily be a two-day race,” Brawn concluded.