2020 F1 season to start behind closed doors with Austrian Grand Prix in July

F1

F1 is targeting a 2020 season of up to 18 races, starting in Europe in July, with several expected to be held behind closed doors

Start of the 2019 Austrian Grand Prix

DPPI

Formula 1 has announced its plans to start this year’s season on the weekend of 3-5 July with the Austrian Grand Prix, which will be held behind closed doors.

A packed, revised calendar is expected to include 15-18 races between this summer and December when the season will end in Abu Dhabi.

After Austria, F1 will continue with European races until September, with many  expected to be held behind closed doors, including the British Grand Prix. Silverstone has written to fans, saying that it will be impossible to run the event under normal conditions for the foreseeable future.

Eurasian, Asian and American races are likely to follow, before the final two races in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.

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“We expect the early races to be without fans but hope fans will be part of our events as we move further into the schedule,” said Chase Carey, F1’s chief executive.

He warned that the plans could change again, considering the “unknowns” of the coronavirus pandemic, but that the situation was becoming more certain.

“We are now increasingly confident with the progress of our plans to begin our season this summer,” said Carey.

“We’re targeting a start to racing in Europe through July, August and beginning of September, with the first race taking place in Austria on 3-5 July weekend.

“September, October and November, would see us race in Eurasia, Asia and the Americas, finishing the season in the Gulf in December with Bahrain before the traditional finale in Abu Dhabi, having completed between 15-18 races.

“We will publish our finalised calendar as soon as we possibly can.”

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The new schedule will test F1’s planning department, with negotiations required with each county, to ensure that staff comply with national regulations, and that the series’ health and safety measures satisfy officials.

“We still have to work out many issues like the procedures for the teams and our other partners to enter and operate in each country,” said Carey. “The health and safety of all involved will continue to be priority one and we will only go forward if we are confident we have reliable procedures to address both risks and possible issues.

“All of our plans are obviously subject to change as we still have many issues to address and all of us are subject to the unknowns of the virus. We all want the world to return to the one we know and cherish, yet we recognise it must be done in the right and safest way.

“The FIA, teams, promoters, and other key partners have been working with us throughout these steps and we want to thank them for all their support and efforts during this incredibly challenging time.

“We also want to recognise the fact that the teams have been supporting us at the same time that they have been focusing enormous and heroic efforts to build ventilators to help those infected by COVID-19.”

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