Start, Hungaroring, 2019

Hungarian Grand Prix will also be held behind closed doors

2020 F1 season

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The Hungaroring has become the latest venue to confirm its Formula 1 round will have to take place behind closed doors this year.

The Hungarian government this week banned events with more than 500 people taking place until August 15th. This year’s Hungarian Grand Prix was scheduled to take place on August 2nd.

The race promoters are therefore considering how the race can go ahead without fans.

“The Hungaroring team has been regularly liaising with Formula 1 — the series’ international rights holder — to explore all possible ways to stage the 35th Formula 1 Magyar Nagydij in front of fans,” they said in a statement. “However, in light of this decision this is unfortunately no longer possible.

“The health and wellbeing of all our fantastic Formula 1 fans, staff and championship participants has been and remains our primary concern throughout this period and with that in mind, we have regrettably been left with no choice but to reach this conclusion.

“We have continuously emphasised our willingness to work towards a safe solution that would allow us to welcome the entire Formula 1 family to the Hungaroring this August but it is now evident that any F1 race in Hungary can now only be held behind closed doors.”

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The Hungarian Grand Prix is the third event on the 2020 F1 calendar which has not been postponed or cancelled. The preceding events, in Austria and Britain, have already confirmed they will take place without fans.

Holding a race without spectators “is not an ideal scenario”, the Hungarian Grand Prix promoter admitted. “[But] we do believe that staging the event behind closed doors — which our fans can still watch on television — is preferable to not having a race at all.

“Furthermore, it will also ensure that a global audience of millions can still watch the race taking place in Hungary via F1’s vast international broadcast coverage. As such, we are continuing our working with Formula 1 to try and find a way to make this possible.”

RaceFans understands the promoters are confident the ‘500 people’ limit will not prevent the race from happening this year, and are in discussions with the government on how the grand prix can go ahead while meeting restrictions intended to contain the pandemic.

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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23 comments on “Hungarian Grand Prix will also be held behind closed doors”

  1. Surely even the total team and FIA staff, marshals, medical is more than 500?

    Won’t that in fact mean they can’t hold the event at all on that date regardless of whether or not there are spectators?

    1. @dbradock Yes, only in the latter half of the month at the earliest. Everything until the middle of August is off.

      1. I’d say an F1 race requires more than 500 staff and mid August is extremely optimistic. Even if each team is limited to 20-30 staff members that’s already 200-300 with the teams alone. Then there’s the tv crews, camera operators, techincal teams, marshals, track workers,medics, fire crews and probably countless other people I’ve missed. The biggest issue is how this is all policed. You’d need a large amount of security in place to ensure no one tries entering the paddock area and grandstands/general admission areas. By the time you add all those up it’s looking more like 1000+

        Football is struggling to restart and those are much, much smaller events set within their own countries. I mean they can’t decide on safe stadiums and travelling 100 miles by private coach! Yet F1 thinks it’ll be possible to fly tones of parts and staff around the world. Madness.

        Simply put F1 isn’t racing this year. I’m gutted about it but next year will come around and although the season opener may be delayed we will see racing in 2021.

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          1st May 2020, 10:02

          But so many teams look to be in trouble from this article which was some time ago.

          I really am not sure we will get back to normal racing even at the start of next year if it has been a disaster money wise for so many teams. At least not in the way we would expect a season to begin.

        2. What do you think will be different then next year? It’ll take time before enough people have been vaccinated to allow mass events. Either we find a way to race under these circumstances, or we’ll probably have to scrap the 2021 season as well.

          1. Not really @krommenaas

            The fact is that a vast majority won’t need the vaccination at all. Many millions have already had the virus with little or no symptoms. The common cold and flu kill thousands each year, but the world doesn’t shut down because those in most danger have a form of protection.

            I said a delayed start to next season as I think it’ll be early next year before a viable vaccine is found. But by then lockdowns will be more open than they are now as social distancing and mask wearing becomes the new norm. I’d still expect races next year to be behind closed doors.

            As you say, it’s find a solution or give up. The solution will become more viable as time goes on and we understand more about the virus, improve testing etc. My main point was that their solution seems crazy considering the scale of a closed door F1 event.

        3. “F1 will not race in 2020” – tons of people who think they can spit ball a prophecy.
          Seriously, we’ve heard it a thousand times from a thousand uninfluential people.

          How do you know? Why do you magically have inside info? How do you know better than those actually running F1?

          Just people trying to feel important if you ask me.

          1. @Xcm There are people even more influential than those running F1 when it comes to a wider scale more global-wise.

          2. @xfm

            No. I couldn’t care less about feeling important. I’m not. I’m simply being realistic given the situation we find ourselves in. Any race even closed doors is going to be over 1000 people and to consider that happening as early as July is simply insane. Even if governments allow it (which most aren’t) then it becomes a real image issue for F1 to decide if they put staff members at more risk by staging a race. Don’t forget, McLaren pulled out of Australia after one team member became ill. So, realistically we only need one of those 1000+ people to become infected and the plug is pulled again. To be honest I can’t see how people are even thinking about racing this year.

    2. ColdFly (@)
      1st May 2020, 10:25

      I’m not an expert of Hungarian law, but attendance for an event (for licence purposes) is typically the public not the staff.
      A closed for event would count as as zero people event.
      There are various factories with more staff on a smaller footprint.

      1. Yes, you are absolutely right! Make the things clear, this prohibition DO NOTHING with the number of the staff members! (Im from hungary)

      2. Good point. @coldfly that might explain their confidence. Would be an interesting conundrum as most “events” don’t require the sort of numbers that we’d see for an F1 race. It’s a bit like the equivalent of a football tournament where (say) 10 teams compete on the same pitch over 3 days and I suspect that wasn’t what was intended by the government ruling.
        All we need to clarify now is whether their borders are open so that teams, drivers and support staff can go there.

        1. ColdFly (@)
          1st May 2020, 12:42

          A smart government would check safe working environment like in all other working places. Especially cleaning practices, distances between individuals and procedures for people who don’t feel well. That might including bleaching the grass after every football match. @dbradock

      3. @coldfly The translation of the Hungarian law I’ve seen says “participants” (granted that this was a Wikipedia entry that itself appears to have had a dubious translation – if anyone who knows more than a handful of words of Hungarian can look at the laws directly, I would appreciate it). So unfortunately, everyone competing or involved in the organisation of the race would count towards the “500 participant” limit. This is akin to how the UK counts this sort of figure but not how some other countries do.

    3. @dbradock

      Surely even the total team and FIA staff, marshals, medical is more than 500?

      Dieter estimated a minimum of 1,400 as follows:

  2. Well, but any race there could only take place in the latter half of August at the earliest. For example, September 6 (and 13 for possibly a second race) should the Italian GP not be able to take place at all this year even without spectators, and the second race should neither Singapore GP nor Azerbaijan GP happen this year, which wouldn’t surprise me.
    Should the season be able to start at Red Bull Ring as scheduled on July 5 followed by another race seven days later I could see the schedule following up like this in Europe:
    Silverstone – July 26 and August 2
    Circuit de Catalunya – August 16 and 23
    Either Hungaroring, Monza, Spa, or perhaps even Imola on September 6 and 13.

  3. Magnus Rubensson (@)
    1st May 2020, 9:27

    Most definitely more than 500.
    Holding the race means F1 is exempt from lockdown rules that have been forced onto everyone else.

    1. @magnusrubensson Look at coldfly’s point above.

  4. If Hungary is 2nd then which other country has confirmed to hold race behind closed doors?

    1. Silverstone.

      1. I mean… UK.

    2. If you are not gonna read the article, don’t post stupid questions in the comments that can easily be answered by reading the article.


    3. @Chaitanya 3rd actually. The third to confirm a spectator-less event if it happens this year.

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