COVID-19 a bargaining chip for circuits?

Date published: May 10 2020

Three further venues axed in new 2020 calendar.

Dutch Grand Prix promoter Jan Lammers thinks some circuits will use the COVID-19 pandemic to stay on the F1 calendar post-2020.

As the series tries to piece together a new schedule, several circuits not on the current calendar, such as Imola and Hockenheim, have come forward and expressed their interest in hosting a Formula 1 race this year.

And Lammers believes tracks may use the current situation as a bargaining chip to get themselves a place on the calendar post-2020.

The Dutch Grand Prix which was due to return this year was postponed, and it remains unclear whether the race will be held behind closed doors or delayed to 2021.

“What we’re asking for and the need to run a Grand Prix behind closed doors at Zandvoort is compared by F1 to Hockenheim, for example,” Lammers explained to Motorsport.com, as quoted by insideracing.com.

“They’ll probably offer to host a race for free or at the cost price. The same goes for Imola and some other circuits.

“But as soon as a Grand Prix is run there, those tracks will try to stay on the F1 calendar. They will say: ‘We helped you during the corona crisis’, and try to negotiate that in a commercial way.”

Lammers was clear that Zandvoort would only host a Dutch Grand Prix without fans in 2020 if it didn’t cost the circuit any money.

“It has to be a responsible thing to do for Circuit Zandvoort, especially from a financial point of view. To put it simply: it shouldn’t cost us any money,” he confirmed.

“So if FOM and Liberty want to hold a race at Zandvoort without fans, they have to pay for all of the operational costs and that is quite a substantial amount of money.

“The fact that we won’t earn anything from it, and that we would invest a lot of time and energy into it, is a way that we would be helping the sport as well.”

And postponing the Dutch Grand Prix until 2021 is a possibility for Lammers.

“It might take a year longer, but whether we come back after 35 years or 36 years, it doesn’t make such a difference on that scale,” he confirmed.

“It might also be better if the coronavirus [pandemic] is largely behind us and we can organise a normal event. The event we had planned is difficult to change into a ‘social distancing event’.

“If you are allowed to organise a race with fans again, you want to have a great party with thousands of people.”

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