‘Behind closed doors races would go broke’

Date published: March 20 2020 - Michelle Foster

Race promoters wants hosting fees cut if events are rescheduled.

Former F1 drivers turned commentator Martin Brundle has poured cold water over suggestions F1 could begin the season behind closed doors, saying the circuits would “go broke”.

Formula 1 tried to start the 2020 season in Melbourne in front of a crowd of what could have been 350,000 over the course of the three-day grand prix weekend.

However, the next race on the calendar, Bahrain, would have been a very different scenario as the Sakhir circuit had already announced that its race would be run behind closed doors.

In the end neither took place.

Australia was called off two hours before the start of FP1, before Formula 1 went on to postpone all the grand prix up until June’s Azerbaijan race.

Formula 1’s bosses, Liberty Media and the FIA, are now considering a revised calendar, although concede it is a moving target.

With Monaco the latest to fall by the wayside, cancelled altogether, the season could start in Baku if the coronavirus allows.

In order to pack in as many races as possible, the summer break is taking place right now with teams free to choose their three-week shutdown, while F1 sporting boss Ross Brawn says we could move to two-day weekends to allow for triple headers.

While Sky Sports commentator Brundle is open to most suggestions, he reckons the one thing F1 should not even consider is racing behind closed doors.

“It looks to me, just my opinion, it looks like April and May are a complete write-off for everybody, everywhere in this part of the world,” he told Sky Sports News.

“So the championship, for what it’s worth, needs a minimum of eight races, maximum of 22 this year, which is clearly not going to happen.

“I think if we do get up and running I could easily see 16 or 17 races, just coming thick and fast, triple-headers, quadruple-headers, maybe one week off and then go again.

“They’ll shorten the weekend, maybe, just to two days rather than three. The thought for great circuits like Silverstone, running a race but having no crowd, they just can’t do that, they’ll go broke frankly.

“So we need to wait until we can get a crowd and do this properly.”

Formula 1, though, only needs eight grands prix to be considered a World Championship. That, Brundle points out, was the schedule back in the sport’s early days.

“I do think there’s a chance we could have a representative Formula 1 season and remember, back in Sir Stirling Moss’ day and [Juan Manuel] Fangio’s day, there were seven or eight in a championship,” he added.

“In my day, with Michael Schumacher in it and [Ayrton] Senna, we had 15 or 16 races and nobody feels any less impressed by those great champions of those days for having less races in a season.”

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