‘F1 season could begin behind closed doors’

Michelle Foster
Melbourne Australian GP empty stands

Melbourne Australian GP empty stands

Ross Brawn has set a deadline for the start of the 2020 F1 season, saying the latest it can begin is in October but if the sport wants a longer calendar it will need to start in July and behind closed doors.

Earlier this week the 2020 season was slashed to 13 grands prix, however, seven of those lost from the calendar are on the postponed list and hoping for a place on a revised schedule.

As things stand, France is down as the first race of the season on June 28, however, even that grand prix is not guaranteed.

The ever-changing picture means Formula 1 has yet to lay out a revised calendar with the team bosses giving Chase Carey and Brawn complete control over any revised calendar.

Brawn is, as most of us are, hoping to get the season underway sooner rather than later.

However, the F1 sporting boss acknowledges that for that to happen, the first few races may have to be run behind closed doors.

“Obviously travel for the teams and travel for everyone involved is going to be one of the big issues,” said Brawn in a Sky Sports F1 Vodcast. “You could argue that once we get there we could become fairly self-contained.

“Our view is that probably a European start will be favourable, and that could even be a closed event – we could have a very enclosed environment, where teams come in on charters, we channel them into the circuit, we make sure everyone is tested, cleared, there is no risk to anyone and we have a race with no spectators.

“That’s not great, but it’s better than no racing at all. I think we have to remember there are millions of people who follow the sport, sat at home.

“A lot of them are isolating, and to be able to put on a sport, and keep the sport alive and entertain people would be a huge bonus with this crisis we have. But we can’t put anyone at risk.

“We’re looking at the organisational structure that would give us the earliest start, but also the ability to maintain that start. There’s no point having a start and then stopping again for a while and having another start.

“I think it’s most likely to be in Europe, and it’s conceivable that it could be a closed event.”

Asked why F1, unlike other racing series, had yet to set out a revised calendar, Brawn explained the difficulties that the sport is facing.

He did, however, add that the latest the 2020 season could begin would be October.

“Our season is longer than most of the other racing series,” he explained. “Canada has just been cancelled, if we included Canada we’d have to revise the calendar again.

“So we felt it was better to wait until the situation stabilised before we present the calendar. There’s been an awful lot of work done.

“Eight races is actually the minimum we can have a World Championship, within the FIA statutes. We could achieve eight races by starting in October. So if you wanted a drop-dead point, it would be October.

“But then there is always the possibility we could run into next year. That’s assuming we finish this year. And that’s being explored. Can we stray into January to finish the season? There are all sorts of complications, you can imagine, with that.

“If we were able to start in the beginning of July, we could do a 19-race season. Tough – three races on, one weekend off, three races on, one weekend off.

“We have looked at all the logistics, and we think we can hold an 18 to 19 race season if we can are able to get started in July. So the choice is anything in between those two numbers.”

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