Packed grandstands at Formula 1 races are unlikely until 2021, according to Renault team boss Cyril Abiteboul.
F1 is gearing up to go ‘lights out’ behind closed doors when the season finally gets under way in Austria on the first weekend in July due to the global health pandemic.
Eerie atmospheres at circuits devoid of spectators will be the ‘new normal’ for at least the majority of this year and we should be prepared not to see crowds cheering their favourite drivers and teams before next season, says Abiteboul.
“Looking at the way the pandemic has been developing and fluctuating and been more in control in Europe, to me it looks like we may have to wait for a complete cycle, a complete winter before we find some promoters who are prepared to take the economic risk to set up a race with grandstands with full attendance,” said Abiteboul in quotes carried by Racer.
“With grandstands full of people cheering for their heroes, full of flags, full of everything – it can be up to 120,000 people at a grand prix like Silverstone in the UK – it may take a while.
“We are bracing ourselves for a season that will be mostly behind closed doors with a different set of economics, obviously, given the circumstances. But hopefully we will be able to have a very small fan attendance over the course of the summer.
“The main concern has been to protect the sport, to protect Formula 1 for next year when we think it will be all back to normal.”
Renault are preparing to start the season with a new driver line-up of Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo, but it will be the only year for that pairing as the Australian has already confirmed he is to join the McLaren team for 2021.