Start, Shanghai International Circuit, 2019

Race postponements creating congestion on 2020 motorsport calendars

2020 F1 season

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The 2020 motorsport season has faced unprecedented disruption due to the global pandemic. From Formula 1 to IndyCar, NASCAR to Formula E, dozens of races have been scratched from the schedules.

Many are hoping to regain slots later in the season. Others are anxiously waiting to learn whether their events will be able to go ahead at all.

For the biggest championships like F1 and NASCAR – which planned 22 and 36 races respectively this year – rescheduling their delayed races before the end of the year already looks like a tall order. F1’s calendar may be shorter, but unlike NASCAR it criss-crosses the globe to put on its races.

Organisers of other major championships will be anxious to keep their major races from clashing. Nonetheless the Le Mans 24 Hours has had to accept a slot alongside F1’s spectacular Singapore Grand Prix and IndyCar’s season finale. That may sound like a fantastic weekend of action for motor racing die-hards, but it’s overload for the casual fan, especially when other sports will be hosting delayed events as well.

IndyCar’s blue riband race, the Indianapolis 500, has also been rescheduled to September, in an unprecedented move. So far it doesn’t clash with a grand prix, but don’t rule out F1 trying to hold one of its postponed rounds then, even if it means running a triple-header with Spa and Monza.

The table below shows the situation for just five of the biggest championships. There are myriad smaller categories which could be affected by future date changes. This is especially likely in America, where NASCAR and IndyCar’s hopes of racing as early as May look optimistic.

Holding races behind closed doors in order to comply with ‘social distancing’ restrictions may be just the start of what’s to come. IndyCar and NASCAR have, unusually, agreed to share a race weekend at Indianapolis in July. Expect to see more unusual combinations of events and races run in atypical conditions once the 2020 season finally begins.

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WeekendFormula 1Formula EWorld Endurance ChampionshipNASCARIndyCar
9-10 MayMartinsville
16-17 May
23-24 MayCharlotte
30-31 MayKansasDetroit (two races)
6-7 JuneMichiganTexas
13-14 JuneCanadaSonoma
20-21 JuneBerlinChicagoRoad America
27-28 JuneFrancePocono (two races)Richmond
4-5 JulyAustriaIndianapolisIndianapolis Grand Prix
11-12 JulyNew YorkKentuckyToronto
18-19 JulyGreat BritainLoudonIowa
25-26 JulyLondon (two races)
1-2 AugustHungary
8-9 AugustMichiganMid-Ohio
15-16 AugustSix Hours of SpaWatkins Glen
22-23 AugustDoverIndianapolis 500
29-30 AugustBelgiumDaytonaGateway
5-6 SeptemberItalyDarlington
12-13 SeptemberRichmondPortland
19-20 SeptemberSingaporeLe Mans 24 HoursBristolLaguna Seca
26-27 SeptemberRussiaLas Vegas
3-4 OctoberTalladega
10-11 OctoberJapanCharlotte
17-18 OctoberKansas
24-25 OctoberUSATexas
31 Oct – 1 NovMexicoMartinsville
7-8 NovemberPhoenix
14-15 NovemberBrazil
21-22 NovemberEight Hours of Bahrain
28-29 NovemberAbu Dhabi
5-6 December
12-13 December
19-20 December
26-27 December
Postponed races

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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24 comments on “Race postponements creating congestion on 2020 motorsport calendars”

  1. That congestion was expected when things went south so quickly in last few weeks.

    1. That congestion can become an opportunity.
      I would reschedule Zandvoort the week before Spa and organise F1 summer trips by visiting all three races. How awesome would that be?

      And to support the staff I would shorten the weekends to 2 racing days so all staff can take their ‘weekends’ during the week. A bit like replacing the 3-week August shut down to multiple 3-day mid-week shut downs.

      1. @coldfly in the past, the indication is that Spa has tended to benefit from Dutch fans going there to see Max, so it might cause some additional financial pain to Spa if it was paired with Zandvoort.

        1. @anon I doubt it. If Spa were to lose attendees because of Zandvoort then it’d happen regardless of the scheduling.

        2. anon, I’d be more inclined to visit the low countries in August if I could visit 2 GP’s in 1 week.
          If a travel company could organise for me a sunbed in Zandvoort, Amsterdam nightlife trip, and camping stay at Spa, then I’m in.
          Throw in a Luxemburg and German GP in ‘Hockenburg’ on either side and you’ll keep me busy for a month.

      2. @coldfly I believe they pencilled it in for August 16 on that leaked calendar, with two weeks added (China and Vietnam slotting in late November, with Brazil pushed up a week) and Bahrain/Abu Dhabi closing the season in early December.

        If they can only start in August, it makes sense to have August be all European venues, see if Baku (or Canada or the left out Mediterranean European race) will fill the October slot, else maybe they really will look to push the calendar into January 2021.

  2. Solely regarding F1: I reckon, the ones with the greatest chance of surviving for this year are Bahrain and NL. Vietnam and Azerbaijan will be the hardest ones to reschedule due to their temporary circuit-status combined with the travelling distance from Europe in the former’s case, which also applies to China along with the less-than-ideal temps for F1 the further into the Northern Hemisphere autumn we go. Spain doesn’t have these disadvantages, but other factors such as financial.

    1. From the “healthy” coutnries perspective, China and Vietnam might be the best places right now (or in a month or so to hold a race). Assuming Abu Dhabi gets pushed to January/February 2021 and Brazil changes dates (either as a triple header after the USA-Mexico, or at a latter date in December/January), then the China-Vietnam double header could happen in November. China might be cold but bearable, Vietnam is always warm and they’ll like to stage their first race this year…

      Netherlands could easily be placed right after Hungary, then at the end the China-Vietnam double header, then Brazil and at the very end Bahrain-Abu Dhabi as a double header.

      1. @black True, Hanoi is warm all-year-round, but how likely the first Vietnamese GP is to happen within this year is a different matter. As for Shanghai: Earlier in November, it isn’t bad or at least last year wasn’t. Overall, there isn’t room for every single one of the affected ones without massive reshuffling of existing race-dates, which is easier said than done and unlikely to be achievable at this short notice. With this, I’m referring to the places that haven’t yet lost their original slots from Canadian GP onwards. The Dutch GP seven or fourteen days after the Hungarian GP is or would probably be the easiest one to try and re-schedule out of them.

  3. I appreciate that calendar congestion is a practical problem to resolve, I just can’t see engagement with a truncated season being high. After months of being forced to stay inside, following the end of quarantine, why would I voluntarily want to stay inside and spend every weekend watching a full schedule of motorsport, when I could go outside and make the most of the regained freedom?

    1. @georgeod You wouldn’t have to watch literally everything, though, just one or some of the categories.

  4. Do people really expect these races to be rescheduled? Given the situation in western Europe, I would be massively surprised if Silverstone, Paul Ricard, Monza, Catalunya, and Zandvoort happened this year. Baku and Canada might be another victims of cancellation, so only realistic options from the first thirteen venues or so are Bahrain, Austria and maybe China.

    1. @pironitheprovocateur Spa is also in Western Europe, but at present, I’m not worried about it given that the Belgian GP isn’t due till nearly five months from now, and also not greatly worried for the French GP. Add to that, I also reckon Zandvoort has a greater chance of surviving for this year than Shanghai as it’s in Europe unlike the latter.

    2. @pironitheprovocateur The organisers are required to try rescheduling them for contractual reasons. Although there are also other issues at play, and I think the different approaches seen here reflect differences in attitude.:

      Formula E has to reschedule at least two if it wants to be an international championship this year (it has only run 6 races so far). I think it was waiting for WEC before moving with any of the reschedules, because a revision was obviously coming the moment Le Mans got moved, and several drivers do both series. Expect reschedules for Formula E to avoid the newly-declared WEC dates.

      F1 extracts a lot from its contracts, often expecting tracks to lose millions for the priviledge of hosting a Grand Prix. So venues have motive to be equally intransigent where possible. Note that the only two cancellations are for venues that, due to being street races in countries with strict planning rules, couldn’t reschedule.

      I’m not sure if that also applies to NASCAR, but that series has given the impression that it believes the more races, the merrier. Clearly there’s more chance of having “more races, the merrier” if races are rescheduled than if they are flat cancelled. Though I don’t seriously expect it to get half, let alone all, of the postponed races rescheduled.

      WEC is more collaborative, so it has been able to quietly cancel races (note there is no Silverstone this year, but they drew no attention to it in their release). Most likely, it will have another 18-month “super-season” next year to reposition the series as a summer-to-summer series by 2022/2023.

      I don’t know what the story is with Indycar, that they have opted not to attempt rescheduling.

      Some rounds that are postponed will definitely get cancelled – we just don’t know which ones.

  5. Martinsville is looking to join its postponed brethren in NASCAR land. The governor of Virginia issued stay-at home orders that will last till June 10th. The NASCAR All-Star race that was t0o take place May 16-17 is also looking to be outright cancelled.

    A potential schedule I saw for NASCAR had both weekends during the Olympics filled, with three double headers and four Wednesday night races. They want to get all the missed races in before the Daytona at the end of August.

  6. This year is gone! If they will try to make this season to go anyway, they will make a terrible show completely strange and weird.

    Unless, around June they are going to start, after July is going to be a waste of time. They have to assume the economical lost and the bad luck of this extreme event.

    1. @jordan merlan That isn’t an option for some of the organisations involved. Unless you count “going bust” as an option.

  7. USGP won’t happen for sure. Looks like many States are still not enforcing anything. Our Federal Government keeps acting like it will just go away. Glad I live in a state that truly is fighting this thing.
    But honestly the only way for them to race is to quarantine for two weeks before and after each race and move on directly to the next race after they quarantined. Meaning nobody will be actually going back home until the season is over.

  8. F1’s calendar may be shorter, but … it criss-crosses the globe to put on its races.

    I think F1 needs to start thinking about what races they can hold in the UK and to forget the globe-trotting for now.

    1. As far as I see the situation in the UK is not great AT ALL, I doubt it will happen this year.

      1. Exactly! Which sensible government is going to let 1000 or so people in from the UK? And then once the race is over they’ll be expecting to have the right to return to the UK!

    2. @drycrust The UK is likely to be what holds up F1 from going anywhere, ironically enough – Italy, France and Switzerland are all ahead of it on the curve. To the extent F1 races this year, it will be controlled by the UK allowing people to leave for non-essential travel (it currently does not, though enforcement of this is unclear) and by other nations’ willingness to let people from the UK in (remember USA and Vietnam restricted UK entrants due to COVID-19 handling even before everything went into semi-lockdown).

  9. I wonder if this could lead to, for example, F1, Super Formula, SF Lights and Japanese F4 (plus Porsche Cup) all combining on 10-11 October.

    Long & short of it is that F1 needs to host at least 8 races this year to be viable, mostly I imagine flyaways, possibly behind closed doors, plus the same at e.g. Silverstone if they need to make up the numbers. Deals to be done with all available 2020 venues most likely.

    PS. Worth noting that Portimao regained its Grade A licence in anticipation of an F1 (tyre? old car?) test later this year.

  10. Bigger concern for GT drivers as a lot of championshio is going to happen. And there will be a big problem with free slots at tracks – F1, FIA WEC, ELMS, DTM, GT champs, touring car champs or FIA ETRC and of course many motorbike races (MotoGP, WSBK, BSB etc.). Gonna be mad weeks!

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