More races under threat as Europe extends bans on mass gatherings

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Germany and Belgium extend mass-gathering bans until the end of August, affecting F1, MotoGP, WEC and Formula E rounds

Eau Rouge

DPPI

The Belgian Grand Prix looks set to be postponed, along with several other high-profile races, after bans on mass gatherings were extended to the end of summer by some European countries.

Championship organisers face having to revise newly-rescheduled calendars as a result of the latest coronavirus measures revealed this week.

Germany and Belgium announced that events attracting large groups cannot take place until the end of August, while France has extended its ban until mid-July.

The restrictions affect the F1 Belgian Grand Prix that was scheduled to be the 14th race of the season on 30 August. F1 is currently in the process of drawing up a revised calendar.

The ban also covers the German MotoGP round on June 21. This year’s French MotoGP race was postponed earlier this month from its May date.

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The World Endurance Championship revised its schedule at the beginning of April but it already looks under threat, with the 6 Hours of Spa penned for August 15.

As it stands, the German touring car championship may begin at Brands Hatch in August, as the first three races in DTM’s latest calendar — Germany and Belgium, plus an unconfirmed slot for St Petersburg — look at risk.

An already-bare Formula E schedule is likely to lose its Berlin round on June 21, while the season-ending July double-header in London is doubtful, given the track is meant to run through the ExCel Centre, which has been converted into a hospital.

The 1 August German round of the World Rallycross Championship is also likely to be moved.

Officials from all major series have said that they anticipate continued disruption from coronavirus measures but the recent extensions are likely to cause alarm, as Germany and Belgium are some of the first European nations to begin easing their lockdowns. Other countries are not yet at that stage, and could keep restrictions for longer.

There had been hope that racing would resume by the beginning of July, with intensive schedules allowing championships to cram in the majority of races before the end of the year.

It is not clear whether races could still take place while mass gathering bans remain in place and other restrictions have been eased. The individuals needed to run a motor sport event, including team members, officials and marshals, add up to a significant number, but it could be possible to race behind closed doors without breaching the rules.

Ross Brawn, F1’s managing director of motor sports, has spoken of chartering flights and controlling the movement of paddock members, to allow them to travel to and from races with significantly reduced social contact.