It was supposed to be a record 22-race world championship in Y 2020 season, but with 7 Grands Prix already either postponed or cancelled, F1 2020 has become a shorter, tightly-packed and economically challenging season for the title.
The season-opener in Australia and F1’s iconic Riviera showpiece in Monaco have been cancelled.
Races in Bahrain, Vietnam, China, Netherlands and Spain have also been cancelled, but with organisers still hoping to fit them into a sensational finale once the threat of the coronavirus had subsided.
A season which should have started in Melbourne on 14 March will now not start until Azerbaijan on 7 June earliest.
“It’s super complicated to redo a calendar because you don’t know when everything will be operational,” Frederic Vasseur, the team principal of the Alfa Romeo F1 team, told the Motorsport press Thursday.
“You need to have a global vision. England is not too affected at the moment but it could be when Italy is less affected,” he added in reference to the 2 countries which play host to most of the teams in the world championship.
There are still 15 races left on the schedule before the concluding race at Abu Dhabi on 29 November.
Last weekend, Ross Brawn, the sporting director of F1, said he was optimistic of a “17-18 race” championship, but that was when only Australia, Bahrain, Vietnam and China had been dropped.
Thursday, the Dutch Grand Prix, slated to make its return to the calendar for the 1st time since Y 1985 on 3 May, and the Spanish race, set for 10 May were postponed.
The Monaco GP, the annual highlight since Y 1955 and set for 24 Maythis year, was cancelled completely.
“We are in uncharted territory. I’m pretty optimistic that we can have a good 17-18 race championship or more,” Mr. Brawn said.
“I think we can squeeze them in. But it depends on when the season can start.”
The traditional 3-week Summer hiatus in August has been cancelled to be replaced by a 21-day break in March and April while the racing season pares down.
The championship now becomes a 6-month run rather than a 9-month run this year due to the coronavirus.
To rescue the calendar, there is an option of 2 races organised on the same weekend.
“It’s possible,” said Mr. Brawn, seeing the 3 weeks between the Hungarian Grand Prix on 2 August and at Spa in Belgium on 30 August as an opportunity.
“One thing we have also been talking about is two-day weekends, and therefore if we have a triple header with two-day weekends, that could be an option.“
F1 experimented with 3 races in a row in Y 2018 but support was lukewarm from teams who felt staff fatigue.
“I think what we need from the teams this year is flexibility, I think they’ve got to give some scope to do these things,” added Mr. Brawn.
“Because we are in very unusual circumstances, and we have got to make sure we’ve got a season that gives a good economic opportunity for the teams.
“For sure we’re going to have a quiet start. I am sure the teams will be flexible to allow us to fit those things in.”
“The costs are not necessarily much lower if you do 18 races rather than 22,” said Mr. Vasseur.
“Our income will be less, if we do fewer races, we will have less commercial rights.” Stay tuned…
Have a healthy day.
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