Formula 1 is closing in on a 2021 calendar, although Chase Carey concedes the ongoing pandemic could force the sport to make changes.
For this year’s championship Formula 1 had laid out a bumper 22-race calendar that included a debut for Vietnam and a return to the Netherlands.
That, however, was put on hold when McLaren recorded a positive test ahead of the Australian Grand Prix and everything stopped.
The sport finally went racing in July with Carey setting out an eight-race European schedule that has since had a further five races confirmed with more to come.
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But while Carey and the rest of Formula 1’s bosses are still finalising the rest of the 2020 calendar, work is also going on for 2021.
The F1 chief reckons next year’s calendar is “pretty close” to being done and should resemble what the 2020 calendar was meant to look like before the pandemic hit.
Of course that could all change given that many countries around the world are experiencing second waves of the virus.
“We haven’t announced 2021 just because the focus is on 2020,” Carey told Wall Street analysts. “But we’re pretty close to finalising 2021.
“We’ve got a couple agreements to complete, where we have the business terms agreed, and we’ve got to paper it.
“There’s been no impact on that. Those are obviously discussions that would have begun well before the virus, and it’s certainly not had any negative impact.
“And I think in some ways, it is the importance of getting back to the world as we know it and re-energising the conversation and interest, we’ve not seen any negative, given our calendar for 2021.
“We are planning a 2021 season that looks pretty much like what we would have expected it to look like at the beginning of this year.
“And then, obviously, we qualify that with we don’t have any better visibility than anybody else as to what this virus is going to look like as we go forward.
“I do think one has to realise that we’re about five months into the virus, and our season in March would be still seven months away. So there’s a long time, and conversations on vaccines and treatments and testing and the like will obviously continue to evolve.
“We also obviously race in 22 countries, so we deal with a much bigger mixed bag of issues throughout this, but we are planning on 2021 that looks like what we would expect, which probably will be a 22-race calendar.”
Carey, though, did reveal that the 2021 calendar could start a bit later than this year’s scheduled March start given that the 2020 season will only conclude mid-December.
“We may make it so there’s a little more space in the front end of it,” he added, “so the calendar in the second half is a little busier, and we’ve got a little more flexibility built into it.
“But I think that’s probably a tweak to it, not a real restructuring. Clearly as this goes along, we’ll know more. And there’s always the possibility that we make some adjustments as we go forward.”