F1 considering six races in seven weeks to hold 19-round season

2020 F1 season

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Formula 1 could hold 19 of the 22 races originally scheduled this year if the championship can begin in July, according to motorsport director Ross Brawn.

Running events behind closed doors, cutting track time at some grands prix from three days to two and delaying the season finale until next year are all being considered to salvage as much of the 2020 season as possible.

At least eight races must be held in order for the season to officially count as a world championship. But Brawn believes F1 can hold many more than that.

“We could achieve eight races by starting in October,” he said. “So if you wanted a drop-dead point, it would be October.

Lance Stroll, Racing Point, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020
Will F1 have to ban fans from races to get its 2020 season started?
“But [that’s assuming we finish this year], there’s always a possibility we could run into next year. And that’s being explored. Can we stray into January to finish the season? There’s also some complications you can imagine with that.

“If we were able to start in the beginning of July, we can do a 19-race season. It’s tough: Three races on, one weekend off, three races on, that weekend off. But we’ve looked at all of the logistics and we think we can hold an 18 to 19 race season if we’re able to get started in July. So the choice is anything in between those two numbers.”

Holding races without fans would allow races to be put on at short notice at some tracks, said Brawn, though he admitted events on temporary circuits could not necessarily be flexible with their dates.

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“Singapore is difficult to move because it’s a street circuit. The logistics involved in putting it all together, moving into a different weekend is very difficult.

“Whereas [permanent] tracks are easier. Where a racetrack exists [races could be held] probably within a month or even less.

Grid, Singapore, 2019
Singapore’s race date is unlikely to change
“Particularly if it’s a closed race because with a closed race you’re not talking about the marketing and the selling of tickets et cetera. You’re talking about what’s needed to get everyone there, structured and organised. So it does depend on the type of race it is.”

Brawn identified China’s grand prix, which was due to take place on April 19th, as one which may have to be shortened to fit it into the calendar. Some races would be held “in slightly odd times, but they would still be okay from a weather perspective”, he added.

“We’ve tried to look at the logistics. 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 from it, it could easily be a two-day race. There might be a couple of two-day races in there to make the logistics work.

“But our guys, along with the FIA consulting the teams have got every permutation covered. At the moment we’re looking at the logistics of a closed race. How would we get people there? How would we protect them? How would we make it safe? Who would we allow into the paddock. Every permutation is being discussed.”

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How the 2020 F1 calendar has changed

1Australian Grand PrixMar 13-15Cancelled, will not be rescheduled
2Bahrain Grand PrixMar 20-22Cancelled, seeking replacement date
3Vietnam Grand PrixApr 3-5Cancelled, seeking replacement date
4Chinese Grand PrixApr 17-19Cancelled, seeking replacement date
5Dutch Grand PrixMay 1-3Cancelled, seeking replacement date
6Spanish Grand PrixMay 8-10Cancelled, seeking replacement date
7Monaco Grand PrixMay 21-24Cancelled, will not be rescheduled
8Azerbaijan Grand PrixJun 5-7Cancelled, seeking replacement date
9Canadian Grand PrixJun 12-14Cancelled, seeking replacement date
10French Grand PrixJun 26-28
11Austrian Grand PrixJul 3-5
12British Grand PrixJul 17-19
13Hungarian Grand PrixJul 31-Aug 2
14Belgian Grand PrixAug 28-30
15Italian Grand PrixSep 4-6
16Singapore Grand PrixSep 18-20
17Russian Grand PrixSep 25-27
18Japanese Grand PrixOct 9-11
19United States Grand PrixOct 23-25
20Mexican Grand PrixOct 30-Nov 1
21Brazilian Grand PrixNov 13-15
22Abu Dhabi Grand PrixNov 27-29

Video: Will F1 resort to holding races ‘behind closed doors’?

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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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45 comments on “F1 considering six races in seven weeks to hold 19-round season”

  1. That would be absurd and very stressful to team personale.

    1. Honestly, I think almost everyone would be thrilled to finally get racing again after half a year without any on track action Chaitanya.
      The stress of sitting at home, probably worrying about your health and that of your friends and family as well as wondering whether your team will survive, whether the backers will still be there to foot the bill etc, is at least as stressfull as a 7 week rush around the globe.

      At least one would hope such a marathon would be more senbibly planned to optimise logistics’

      1. It’s A plan, not THE plan and subject to the teams saying yes.

        Best and worst scenarios have to be made.

        1. @invisiblekid The teams have agreed that they don’t need to be consulted on the final calendar. However, this is still a “maximum-density” plan and any number of other factors will result in its being altered.

  2. Seems sensible to look at it this way. Off course it is highly unlikely that racing will actually start in July (IMO sometime September might be more realistic). The big elephant in the room will be though, that races without fans will need exteral funding.

    The likes of Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, maybe China and Russia could go for that. Maybe Honda and Red Bull can be convinced to stage the Japanese and Austrian races (although Red Bull seems to dislike moving the race, so maybe not too keen on funding it out of pocket?) without Liberty paying up.
    I could see the Zandvoort track beeing keen to kick off their return on the calendar by ponying up the money, if the investors behind it feel it makes sense to signal a return to “business as usual”.

    But if they want to have races like Austin, Silverstone, Monza, Canada or Mexico and Singapore (I doubt it makes sense to get a “without fans” event in the middle of a city like Montreal, Mexico or Singapore, but maybe later in the season they could?) to take place, surely Liberty will have to fund the event in order to be able to sell advertising and have footage TV companies will pay for to get some turnover for the year.

    I think realistically they will be pushing to get maybe to 10-14 races, depending on whether some races can be done with visitors in the “winter” periods, maybe allowing for at least some fans, that will mean paying for 5-6 events out of pocket to salvage a world championship season.

  3. I might be being sceptical, maybe they can pull it off but I just don’t see it. I’m in New Zealand and we have a good chance of wiping it out. It may mean that we have closed borders for as long as 18 months though. It’s great that most countries seem to be getting things under control and it’s clear things could be much worse. The thing is, we are getting on top of this virus due to not moving around much. In most countries less than 5% of their population has been infected. Even with this small percentage, many hospital systems aren’t keeping up. As soon as there is mobility, numbers will rise once more and the next lockdown will come into effect. So, I’m expecting most the world to be on rolling lockdowns until a vaccine is available. I would say by now, most governments are aware of this and are going to be very reluctant to risk importing new cases, especially if they have things under control. The other question: Do you really think governments would be being so generous with their cheque books if they thought everything would be back to normal in a few months?

    Just my layman’s, arm chair interpretation of the situation and I really hope we can go back to normal life soon. I wrote this simply to call the proposed scenarios as most likely, an extremely naive set of comments from Ross. I get the impression Liberty are using him for their corporate propaganda as he has credibility, which I my eyes is quickly fading. He doesn’t seem comfortable playing this game so I expect once the 2022 rules are implemented, he’ll be out of there.

  4. So perhaps we have a 1st corner pile up in the 1st of those 7 races….
    How many teams can get through all these races without running out of spare parts?
    Might be a dream for some, but could be a logistical nightmare for the teams, especially if the majority of these races are outside of europe.

    1. I’m paraphrasing here a little, but Ross talked about laying on as many planes as necessary to make something like this happen, so with notice teams can makes as many spares as the can afford and they would go with them to each continent.

      Considering the lack of changes to car design for 2021 or probably developments for this year, they can make more than the expected and carry them over to next year if needed.

      Plus it will make for more careful driving and teams don’t loose money by crashing out on the first corner!

  5. What an endless load of PR non.sense. We’ll be really happy if we achieve twelve races this year and if the world-wide situation doesn’t improve by the beginning of May, it’ll be more than probable that the season will be cancelled altogether. I don’t know on which planet the people of Brawn’s kind currently live, but counting on races in Britain, France, Canada, Spain, Italy (do I have to go on?) is a sheer blindless.

    1. Zak Brown said in the same conversation/video call, if the logistics work then he’s not against the idea. He also said this is the absolute best time to experiment with race weekends and see what works and doesn’t work in a very non standard season.

      It’s a stretch, and I’m sure 19 rounds are just about impossible, but just like a country’s Government, plans for best and worst scenarios have to be made. You cannot just right off a season without looking at every way to try and do something. It’s a plan, not THE plan.

    2. It’s his job to prepare for all possible scenarios, including the best ones. Logistically there won’t be a problem to have these races happen in a safe way (test everyone before going there; keep them separate from all local people). The question is whether it’ll make sense financially and whether the host countries will be in the mood for it. An F1 race could be perceived as a sign of restarting the economy OR as a frivolous expense in dire times.

  6. silverstone (and in reverse)

    wouldnt that be nice? all purpose built tracks (most of them i think)

    no crowds

    1. and non-profit for this year for LM, and no extra bonus, all share profits equally

    2. Are you aware of the fact that those facilities do not exist in a bubble and apart from travelling through country you need a safety staff present, plus a whole lot of other people? Sure, it will be feasible to stage something of this sort in Italy or Spain this year.

  7. What ever happened to quality over quantity? It might be possible for 12 or so races, but they’d be lucky to get any more than that. I don’t think Brawn, in particular, actually understands how serious this pandemic is. This really proves that Brawn and Carey care about cash, and not a lot else. Three races on and one week off, are you kidding? Think of the stress on families this would cause. The teams would never agree to it.

  8. If there are 8 races in a season that will be enough to make it a legitimate championship. In the 50’s there were plenty of seasons with only 8 rounds. And it would be extremely important to be consistent, a small mistake and you are out of the fight.
    I don’t know about you, but when life returns to normal, the first thing I would like to to see when I turn on TV is F1.
    Obviously this shorter more condensed calendar will put more stress on teams, but it is doable and the season won’t be that long

  9. GtisBetter (@)
    9th April 2020, 10:29

    Let’s just wait for a month. There are a lot things that need to be adressed first. I know it’s their job to consider alternatives, however they are not the one’s who make the call. The countries are.

    Secondly, having a group of people fly all over the world in a short period of time, while everybody is still trying to contain a pandemic sounds idiotic. I think many health experts and people who take care of IC patients who hopefully finally have some kind of normal life again in july, will just drop their jaw at this kind of ignorant behaviour. There are important questions we need to answer first. For example, are people immune, or can they get infected again? Do it poses the same health risk on second infection? etc

  10. I feel like trying to cram so many races into a relatively short period of time would be a mistake.

    Like many others i’ve been stuck inside for about 2 weeks & when i’m finally allowed to go out & things start getting back to something close to normal I then don’t want to be stuck indoors every weekend watching F1 so having a race virtually every weekend for 5-6 months isn’t something i’m looking that forward to.

    And consider everything else is also going to be starting up again in that time. Are people really going to want to stay in every weekend having spent weeks/months not been allowed out?

    I love F1, I love Motorsport I really do but the prospect of 3 weekends on with 1 off for 5-6 months isn’t something i’m looking that forward to even though i’m looking forward to getting things started.

    1. Considering how everywhere outside will be mobbed, I wouldn’t want to stand shoulder to shoulder just to be out somewhere. It’s a couple of hours during the day/evening. I’m happy with that.

  11. I guess in the end Brawn will get his way with the 2-day race weekend

  12. I think we have to not assume Brawn’s statements so seriously. For me it looks like he is just looking for people reaction about have such condensed calendar. Probably he is just trying to convince to someone that this is a bad idea even from a comercial perspective.

  13. GtisBetter (@)
    9th April 2020, 13:37

    Let’s just wait for a month. There are a lot things that need to be adressed first. I know it’s their job to consider alternatives, however they are not the one’s who make the call. The countries are.

    Secondly, having a group of people fly all over the world in a short period of time, while everybody is still trying to contain a pandemic sounds like a vey bad idea. I think many health experts and people who take care of IC patients who hopefully finally have some kind of normal life again in july, will just drop their jaw at this kind of ignorant behaviour. There are important questions we need to answer first. For example, are people immune, or can they get infected again? Do it poses the same health risk on second infection? etc

  14. Seriously Ross – can I have some of what you’re smoking.

    His statements seem to be becoming more bizarre by the week. To keep this fallacy of 18 or 19 races going is surely just to try and prop up Liberty’s share price.

    Even Bernie wouldn’t have been so overt about the greed of F1.

    1. @dbradock I expect he’s being forced to say these things and that liberty knows he is seen as trustworthy. They’re trading on this, which unfortunately ruins his reputation and not much more. It would obviously be shareholder drivel if it came from chase, so they’re trying to put an honest face on their propaganda. Anyone fooled?

      1. @antznz that may well be the case, but it would only serve to lower further my opinion of him. There’s such a thing as integrity. If you give that up to voice rubbish on behalf of your employer then you’ve become part of the problem.

        1. @dbradock oh I completely agree. But he probably wants to see his new rule set implemented before he jumps off liberty’s boat, which I expect he will do first opportunity he has. Not just yet though or his big rule update legacy will be bastardised. So he’s stuck regurgitating this nonsense. Rock and a hard place.

  15. July/August is highly optimistic.

    While many countries may well be coming out of lockdown by that time I expect travel restrictions to still be in place well into the end of the year & in some places still be in place in early 2021.

    Also the ‘3 weeks on/1 week off’ schedule is going to be utterly brutal & I can see a lot of problems coming from them doing it, Especially given how unprepared most of the teams are going to be both financially & in terms of operational readiness as remember a few of the teams have shifted focus to building medical equipment as has a chunk of the supply chain.

    And then remember the talk is going towards racing into late January/Early February with barely a month off before the 2021 season starts. Your essentially asking everyone to be on the road for pretty much an entire 6-8 months without a break & then going straight into the next season wher ethey will be on the road until the August shutdown.

    That schedule is going to utterly destroy people & those that think it won’t have clearly never done it & will never understand what it’s like, If you did you would be as down on the idea as I am.

  16. Ambitious, but at least it’s a plan. It’ll become more clear in a month. Luckily it’s only April.

    1. Indeed. I forsee them iterating through numerous plans and schedules as time passes and the situation evolves (or, devolves, if we don’t have things under control).

  17. He’s maybe a bit over-optimistic, and that’s an understatement. 19 Races within the latter six months. More realistically 15-17 at max, but even that’d be a stretch should the season only be able to commence in August, not to mention later than that.

  18. This discussion when the next Grand Prix will be is just dribble talk. I am loosing Respect for Brawn…
    We have a killer pandemic we all need to be vaccinated than maybe we can plan the next race. Probably 12 to 18 months from now. Lets get real here.

  19. Ross seems to have lost the plot with this statement. I don’t really know F1 would need to hold so many races to make or call it a proper season. I realise there is a huge loss of income but the schedule suggested seems like madness with 6 races in 7 weekends, etc. Why go to these lengths?

    If they can start racing again in July (behind closed doors) and run the season until the planned end then why not settle for say 14 – 16 races? With the latter it would be like an old 1980’s style season. Just as valid a championship.

  20. Personally I’d love it but I think they are only kidding themselves if they think we will be back to having large international events within the next 12 months

  21. I don’t see the point of the Friday testing at all in general, from a tv viewer perspective. Give them an hour practice on Saturday morning, quali, then the race Sunday. It will certainly spice things up a little as everyone has far less time to practice and crunch the numbers. Unpredictability is excitement’s friend.

    1. If you don’t see the point from a TV perspective then don’t watch. But for fans attending the circuits (And spending a lot of money to do so) the Friday add’s a lot of value & is often the most enjoyable day of the weekend. You can walk around the circuit & watch cars from different corners for example which is something you don’t really want to be doing during Saturday/Sunday given how you need to be focussing on lap times, race order, strategies etc.. so want to stay seated by a big screen.

      I also think cutting track action in general is a horrible idea given how as an F1 fan I want to see as much F1 driver/car track action as possible. Spending a few hundred dollars to travel to an F1 weekend just for 2 days & 4-5 hours of track action offers very little value compared to what we have currently with the 3 days.

      It’s already bad enough that with the testing ban fans hardly have any opportunities to see the cars on track anymore. I feel sorry for the newer/younger fans who hardly get to see the cars now, Back in the 70s/80s/90s/00s we used to have the opportunities to see cars a couple times a month thanks to testing been allowed them with free/cheap entry.

      1. Completely agree with the Friday fan experience! You get to wander and check out all the corners, straights and all the extra stuff that’s been put on. Without grandstand seats you need to turn up early and park yourself Sunday so you see nothing but the race. I’m far less likely to travel for a 2 day race weekend.

    2. TBH I doubt going to a 2 day race weekend or even reducing practice time would have any lasting impact on unpredictability or make races better.

      People point out to how a wet Friday or something makes the races better now which is something that can be true, However bear in mind that this is teams losing track time they expected to get & therefore losing there scheduled practice program.

      If every weekend was 2 days with only an hour’s practice teams would go into the weekend knowing that & alter there run plans accordingly as well as relying more on simulation tools which would just benefit those who have the best tools which tends to be those with the biggest budget & even when the budget cap comes in the top teams will still have the best tools having built them up over the past number of years.

      As @roger-ayles says, All going to 2 days/cutting practice would do is rob fans who are at the racetrack of a day/couple hours of seeing cars lapping the track which is what they tend to be there to see.

  22. Six races in seven weeks is overkill especially given how when things can get going again everything is likely to start running at the same time.

    I’ve already been locked in for 3 weeks & could be locked in for another 3-6+ so when the restrictions lift I want to be spending time with family/friends & getting the stuff done i’ve not been able to in this time so the last thing I want to be doing is spending another six weekends indoors watching F1, Indycar & so on.

    I also can’t imagine how dreadful it would be for the teams. I’m sure they will be glad to get racing again but given how many of them were quite open in saying the triple header a few years ago was way too much I can’t see any of them been especially happy with multiple triple headers even if they cut it to 2 day events (Thus reducing value should any fans be able to attend).

    Just skip 2020 & focus on hopefully getting in a full 2021. I just do not see how they pull off a 2020 season & I think they are highly misguided in thinking an 18-ish race season is doable without burning out everyone in the paddock.

  23. Motogp has been far more agile with their calendar.

  24. One individual is infected by the virus during of any of these events. What happens next?

    1. No one seems to know, or rather no one seems to be saying.

  25. If permanent tracks are easier to set up than temporary ones, I really hope we go to Algarve International Circuit this year.

  26. I hate to be a wet towel, but I doubt that we will be seeing any Formula 1 racing until next year. Pandemics develop in waves, and it will be a while before global sport can safely operate. Patience is difficult, and a lot of money and interest is at stake in F1, but this cannot be compared to the value of human lives.

  27. As much as I enjoy Austin, Montreal, and Suzuka, if they want to pull off a season and still have 10 teams at the end of it, it should be a Euro-centered season.

    If there are no crowds, and a plan for double and triple headers, then reducing travel costs and personnel is vital. To me, no crowds means no obligation to the scheduled dates. I would be geographically organizing the schedule…book Silverstone, Spa, and Zandvoort together. Hungary and Austria. France and Italy.

    I know there’s a LOT of logistics not addressed here but if they are determined to make a season happen this would be my starting point.

  28. They should double up race weekends. Have a full race Saturday and Sunday. Reverse the track direction and/or run different layout where possible, switch the tire compounds, have reverse starting grid on Sunday.

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