Formula 1 CEO and Chairman Chase Carey said that the sport targets to begin the 2020 championship season in Austria on July 5 after its delayed start to this year's campaign.
Like the entire motorsport world, the Formula 1 Championship has also been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. The situation has caused the cancellation or postponements of the first ten races with the French Grand Prix becoming the latest victim of the crisis induced by the COVID-19 virus.
In an announcement issued by Formula 1 on Monday, Carey confirmed that the sport intends to finally kick off the 2020 season in July, also stating that the plan is to end the season this year.
„We’re targeting a start to racing in Europe through July, August and beginning of September, with the first race taking place in Austria on 3-5 July weekend. September, October and November, would see us race in Eurasia, Asia and the Americas, finishing the season in the Gulf in December with Bahrain before the traditional finale in Abu Dhabi, having completed between 15-18 races.”
While the crisis caused by the coronavirus outbreak has shown some signs of improvements across Europe, governments continue to extend the ban on mass gatherings and travel restrictions are set to remain in force for the coming months. With the need of generating income in order to protect the financial well-being of the sport, F1 is adamant to resume racing even behind closed doors.
„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. 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.”
Formula 1 and the FIA have been working tirelessly with the teams over recent months to safeguard both the short- and long-term financial stability of the sport after the coronavirus pandemic has put an immense burden and pressure on teams. It has been decided that the thorough technical regulation changes for 2021 will be delayed until 2022 while the retention of the current chassis has also been unanimously agreed. However, the controversial cost cap is still being discussed with top teams – Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes – understandably reluctant to accept a drastically low budget limit due their financial structure.
While F1 intends to return as soon as on July 5 and create a calendar featuring 15-18 grands prix, Carey was adamant to stress that the sport will continue to consider the health of all parties involved including teams, drivers, suppliers, the organisation and fans as the main priority.
„All of our plans are obviously subject to change as we still have many issues to address and all of us are subject to the unknowns of the virus. We all want the world to return to the one we know and cherish, yet we recognise it must be done in the right and safest way. We look forward to doing our part by enabling our fans to once again safely share the excitement of Formula 1 with family, friends, and the broader community,” he said.