Recent announcements mean this year’s calendar is starting to become clearer and Formula One says it is keen to see F1 fans return to the track side with some venues planning to allow a limited number of spectators to attend.
Three races in and while we’re all happy to see F1 back on our screens it’s been a bittersweet start to the 2020 season with grandstands eerily empty, the coronavirus lockdown measures and safety concerns forcing races to be held behind closed doors.
In May, F1 announced plans for racing to return with closed-door events starting with the back to back Grand Prix in Austria, followed by the Hungarian GP and another back to back at Silverstone. The Belgian and Italian GP were also confirmed though they too would be held without spectators present. Meanwhile races in Azerbaijan, Singapore and Japan were officially cancelled in June.
The Canadian Grand Prix originally planned for June 14 was postponed in April. This announcement abandoning all races west of the Atlantic all but extinguished the slim flicker of hope that the event might have been rescheduled.
Replacement venues old and new
All of these cancellations mean European venues have been drafted in to flesh out the 2020 F1 calendar, seeing the sport return to some classic venues and make first appearances at others.
“We are pleased that we continue to make strong progress in finalising our plans for the 2020 season and are excited to welcome Nürburgring, Portimão and Imola to the revised calendar,” said Chase Carey, CEO of F1.
It was half expected that Germany might see a reprise in 2020 as a stand in for cancelled races elsewhere but it was always Hockenheim, which held the race last year that was expected to stage the event. It is however the Nürburgring that will hold a Grand Prix, last having appeared on the calendar in 2013.
After weeks of speculation, Imola has also been confirmed and is expected to host a condensed two day format. The popular circuit last held a Grand Prix in 2006 and had been angling for slot in the F1 calendar before the current crisis.
Ferrari owned Mugello meanwhile will host it’s first Formula 1 race – the Tuscan Ferrari 1000 Grand Prix. What better way for the Scuderia to celebrate their 1000th Grand Prix than with an event in their own back yard?
Along with Monza, that makes for a tally of three races in Italy this year. If they are all closed-door, perhaps these events are where fans will be most missed, a Grand Prix in Italy just won’t feel right without the tifosi.
In late October F1 will make its debut at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimão, Portuagal. The last event to be held in the country was the Estoril GP in 1996.
F1 now has a confirmed 14 race calendar. That’s more than the 8 races needed to have an official championship and just one short of their 15 race target.
After the European season, where next?
After Sochi and the European run of new/old venues, where F1 goes from there is still unconfirmed. The Chinese Grand Prix, the first to be postponed in the halcyon days of January, looks likely to be cancelled.
Vietnam which has had low levels of virus cases may hold a Grand Prix after all, though it’s unlikely Hanoi will want to host it’s inaugural event if it had to be without spectators. Elsewhere in Asia, Sepang in Malaysia has been mooted as a possible venue to return for a one off race.
- July 5 Austrian Grand Prix
- July 12 Styrian Grand Prix (Red Bull Ring 2)
- July 17-19 Hungarian Grand Prix
- August 2 British Grand Prix
- August 9 70th Anniversary Grand Prix (Silverstone 2)
- August 16 Spanish Grand Prix
- August 30 Belgian Grand Prix
- September 6 Italian Grand Prix
- September 13 Tuscan Ferrari 1000 Grand Prix (Mugello)
- September 27 Russian Grand Prix
- October 11 Eifel Grand Prix (Nurburgring)
- October 25 Portuguese Grand Prix (Algarve)
- November 1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix (Imola)
When can we hope to see F1 spectators in grandstands again?
There are plans to allow spectators attend the Algarve weekend, possibly in the thousands though it’s unlikely to be filled to capacity as social distancing rules will no doubt apply.
It remains uncertain whether other European venues added to the calendar will open their gates to spectators as well but talks between F1 and local authorities are ongoing.
It’s likely the first Grand Prix with fans in attendance this year will be at Sochi, where tickets are on sale and the race is still set for it’s September slot.
If you have been impacted by any of these cancellations contact your ticket provider to learn about your refund options.