Start, Red Bull Ring, 2019

The new F1 season is just 50 days away. Again…

2020 F1 season

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The heavily-delayed 2020 F1 season is now due to begin in 50 days’ time. But what will the final championship calendar look like?

The championship came within a few days of holding the season-opening race when teams assembled in Melbourne a few months ago. But the cancellation of that race, and the decision to call off the next nine rounds, means the total wait for the next race since the final round of last season will reach at least 216 days – one of the longest ever gaps between consecutive races.

The last race to be called off was the French Grand Prix. That happened on April 27th, and F1 hopes the race that was due to follow it on the calendar, the Austrian Grand Prix, will take place as planned seven weeks from tomorrow, albeit without any fans present.

This is in stark contrast to NASCAR, which will resume racing tomorrow at Darlington Raceway. Other series have also announced earlier resumptions than F1, but don’t have the complications of having either races or teams based in different countries, let alone both.

Austria is now expected to hold two races and yesterday Silverstone announced it will do the same. F1 will therefore potentially kick off with an unprecedented quadruple-header of races as it bids to hold at least 15 events – believed to be the minimum necessary in order to satisfy television broadcasting contracts.

The next round on the original schedule was due to be at the Hungaroring. Assuming F1 would not countenance holding a quintuple-header – though remember the teams have waived their right to approve the final calendar – its original race date of August 2nd would give competitors a two-week breather after Silverstone. The Hungarian Grand Prix promoter has said its event will also be held behind closed doors.

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2019
Silverstone says it will hold two races
This was due to be followed by the summer break, but this has been scrapped. Here F1 plans to schedule other European rounds.

The Spanish Grand Prix previously looked doubtful, having only secured a one-year extension on its contract last year. Carlos Sainz Jnr’s deal to drive for Ferrari next year changes that – Spain could now become as lucrative a market for F1 as it was during Fernando Alonso’s pomp.

F1 will also be eager to reschedule Zandvoort’s race, the first at the track for 35 years, even if restrictions prevent the stands being swamped with the expected hoards of Max Verstappen fans.

Belgium was originally due to hold its race on August 30th, but the extension of restrictions on sporting events in the country until the end of the month jeopardised that. However the president of the Wallonia region where the track is situated has indicated the race could be granted an exemption. Providing, again, the race goes ahead without spectators.

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If Italy’s round, due to take place one week later, can go ahead, F1 will have successfully reinstated the majority of its European season. The exceptions are Monaco – which will not be rescheduled due to the logistical difficulties of preparing its temporary circuit in time – and France. The latter is a curious case, however, as the carefully-worded statement announcing its ‘cancellation’ appeared to leave room for Paul Ricard to hold a race this year providing it is not titled the ‘French Grand Prix’.

Sergio Perez, Racing Point, Hockenheimring, 2019
Hockenheim could make a surprise return
Formula 1 chairman and CEO Chase Carey intriguingly revealed multiple venues which were not on the original 2020 F1 calendar are being considered for races. Hockenheim seems an obvious option, and German media reported this week as many as two races could be held there.

This could prove a useful option as Singapore’s race will almost certainly not go ahead if it cannot be staged on its original date of September 20th. While holding races at permanent venues behind closed doors may be viable, doing so on a temporary circuit in the centre of a city presents many additional complications.

The structure of the final calendar beyond that remains highly speculative. However Carey’s recent comments indicate the season finale at Yas Marina will be postponed from November 29th to December 13th, with the rescheduled (and likewise highly lucrative) Bahrain round taking place on the preceding weekend.

While other series have published more detailed schedules for their restructured calendars, F1’s plans inevitably remain more fluid. That is due both to its globe-hopping nature, and the persisting doubts over how successfully different countries have contained the pandemic which forced the scrapping of every grand prix which was due to take place in the first half of 2020.

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Where can F1 accommodate postponed races?

Sunday Venue Notes
05/07/2020 Red Bull Ring Race one
12/07/2020 Red Bull Ring Race two
19/07/2020 Silverstone Race one
26/07/2020 Silverstone Race two
09/08/2020 Hungaroring Original race date
30/08/2020 Spa-Francorchamps Original race date
06/09/2020 Monza Original race date
20/09/2020 Singapore Original race date
27/09/2020 Sochi Autodrom Original race date
11/10/2020 Suzuka Original race date
18/10/2020 Circuit of the Americas Original race date
01/11/2020 Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez Original race date
15/11/2020 Interlagos Original race date
06/12/2020 Bahrain International Circuit Postponed
13/12/2020 Yas Marina Postponed
Other venues to reschedule
Shanghai International Circuit
Circuit de Catalunya
Baku City Circuit
Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
Paul Ricard*

*See note in article

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Author information

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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10 comments on “The new F1 season is just 50 days away. Again…”

  1. I never interpreted the wording of the French GP cancellation as that way, and I don’t see how it could imply that even indirectly.
    The Canadian GP, we can also forget about that as it more or less most definitely won’t go ahead this year for both logistical and climatic reasons (more so the latter).
    Zandvoort, of course, hasn’t appeared on the recent drafts either as hasn’t Singapore, but it should be able to go ahead on a later date than originally scheduled, though, as postponing it would, in theory, give more lead-time. Not regarding the overall time it takes to build-up everything, but allowing for a later start day for the build-up process, hence, giving a higher chance of the situation not impacting that process.
    Hanoi might have the highest chance of surviving for this year than Singapore and Baku even though the same cons the street circuit-status brings in equally applies to it.
    Hockenheim isn’t the only venue that has been brought up as a potential (in case) replacement for Silverstone, but also Portimao.
    The Silverstone-races based on the most recent news would take place on July 26 and August 2.
    BTW, COTA is in the wrong box as October 25 is its original race day for this year, not 18, and similarly, the note for Hungaroring is incorrect as August 2 is the original race day for this year, not 9.

  2. No chance of the races in Asia or the Americas taking place this year. Maybe a slight chance of Singapore but are they going to put a street circuit together for a race behind closed doors?

    1. Josh (@canadianjosh)
      16th May 2020, 22:29

      If F1 can plan an October or September race for Canada I could see it happening for sure but it’s unlikely F1 will race in Texas or Mexico City, I’d be shocked if the US GP is even considered as the daily death toll is still over 1000 a day. Most days is about 1400. Canada won’t host any sporting event this summer on Canadian soil.

      1. The COVID stats for Texas aren’t the worst, Don’t think that they are flattening the curve, but they don’t have the same numbers as some states in the US Northeast. Neither are they worse than hopeful hosts Austria and the UK?

        But, do they international travel restrictions in place? And is F1 something that they would make an exemption for?

      2. I’d be shocked if the GPDA would even consider the US or Brazil, particularly Brazil given that there’s effectively no controls at all there, and the numbers in the US just aren’t good enough yet to bear any consideration.

    2. Given Singapore’s massive cases of the virus right now, theyre probabaly not gonna be in the mood for any street racing this year.

  3. 05/07/2020…12/07/2020…19/07/2020…26/07/2020…

    As others have suggested, wouldn’t it be better to have the second GP much closer to the first of a double GP? That way you can get close to two weeks between events so that if anyone has become infected at one event they can be removed from the subsequent one. Someone (sorry, I forgot who it was) suggested the Wednesday after the first race, although maybe even earlier could be better. How long does it take a driver to recover from a race? How long does it take to repair a car?
    There are several reasons besides the benefit of giving people longer for symptoms of illness to appear if they have become infected. Keeping everyone locked up under quarantine conditions for a week could be difficult. People will want to “go out for a walk” to the nearest city or town or such like. I suspect the quarantine will be a bit “leaky” anyway, but moreso if everyone is stuck somewhere for the current 10 or 11 days, which sort of compromises the quarantine. Expecting everyone to adhere to the quarantine rules would be easier if there was less idle time between races.
    As an aside, what about taxation rules? How does attending the Grands Prix in a country, e.g. Silverstone, affect the tax rates of those attending if they are there for the 10 days or so as in the proposed plan compared to say 7 days?

  4. W (@vishnusxdx)
    17th May 2020, 8:43

    Yay, 50 days until the F1 2020 season starts!
    I feel like I’ve been here before….

  5. Could they not do practice on a Friday, qualifying Saturday morning, race 1 Saturday afternoon. Race 2 Sunday afternoon.

  6. If Hockenheim steps up I can now see maybe 10 or 11 races this year, all of which will be held without any spectators. But if a second wave of coronavirus infections starts to gather steam, that number will be reduced, possibly to zero.

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