F1 managing director Ross Brawn says it’s possible some of the later European races could be open to fans, but the sports isn’t banking on it.
Eight rounds have so far been confirmed for the 2020 Formula 1 season, all to be held in Europe, and they will also be closed events with no fans in attendance.
Brawn said that the more realistic target for when fans could return to watch the racing would be the flyaway races after the European phase is over, but he didn’t rule out fans being allowed back through the gates at some of the later European rounds.
What he did say for certain is that F1 won’t rush to have fans back in the grandstands.
Speaking at an FIA eConference this week, he said: “We won’t rush that, I think some of the later European races are optimistic, but I think we would rather not plan on that.
“I think when we go to the flyaway races, we can start to hope that we will have fans, but even that’s not absolutely guaranteed. I think to have the race in a safe and secure environment is critical.
“We’re going around the world, we can’t have a problem in one country that stops us from going to other countries. We’ll progress slowly on that front.
“The fans for us are critical. We do want to see them as they do add a lot of atmosphere. I think we’ll take that very gradually, but we don’t want to jump in and then have to jump out again when we find a problem.
“The situation is different throughout the world. I think the fact that we were prepared to accept closed races in the early part of the season gave us more opportunity.
“That’s not ideal, it’s not ideal for any sport because the fans are such a crucial part of it. But we felt going racing and broadcasting racing and engaging the fans with racing in what ways we could was still much more desirable than doing nothing.”
So far it seems China, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi are the only non-European locations interested in holding a World Championship round in 2020, and Brawn did say he is confident of finishing the season in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.
“Approaching closed fans events gave us the bulk of the European season,” he explained.
“Of course we can adjust that as we progress and we come to understand where we are with this pandemic.
“Our first half of the season is European-based. We’re still pretty fluid on the second half. I think we’re confident we’re going to finish in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi, but we’re filling in the spaces in-between.”