THE Formula 1 world remains in a state of uncertainty after the announcement by F1 chief executive Chase Carey that the 2020 season would probably begin in July.
His suggestion is to have events run based on their geographic location, with European rounds being held in July, August and September — possibly without spectators — before the remaining rounds in Asia and the Americas.
Bahrain and Abu Dhabi would then be the final races of the season in December, so that boils down to 18 Grands Prix for 2020, as opposed to to the initial 22-race format.
Question is, will previously postponed races be rescheduled for later in the year, and if not, will races at new venues be added?
An announcement in April that Portugal’s Portimao and Estoril circuits had been upgraded to FIA Grade 1 status fuelled speculation they may be used to host races in the revised F1 season.
The Bahrain Grand Prix was originally scheduled to be the second race of the season on March 22 before it was called off.
But the Sakhir circuit’s proximity to Abu Dhabi and its agreeable December weather makes it a likely choice for back-to-back races to be staged in the Middle East at the tail-end of the year.
Australia looks almost certain to lose out on its round.
Formula 1’s apparent willingness to accept Bahrain is good news for those keen to see the Chinese Grand Prix return to the 2020 calendar.
It was initially planned for April 19, but the geographic format of Carey’s revised calendar could see it return to coincide with other Grands Prix in Singapore and Japan.
The Singapore GP is scheduled for September 20, and the Japanese event on October 11, but the evolving nature of the 2020 season suggests those dates might change, resulting in a trio of events in Asia with Shanghai added in.
Pundits say if a Chinese Grand Prix becomes a reality this year, potentially coinciding with China’s National Day holiday, it could be perfect for global motorsport to mark a great return to the world’s most populous nation.
However, the whole thing depends entirely on the outcome of the COVID-19 debacle.
Somehow, a Formula 1 grand prix without spectators just doesn’t ring true.
And Australia, which was to have held the first of the 2020 grands prix, probably won’t have one at all this year.
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