F1 outlines plans to race '15 to 18' times in 2020
Formula 1 motor racing will seek to stage between 15 and 18 grands prix this year and extend the season into December, after the start of the 2020 campaign was decimated by the coronavirus pandemic.
Chase Carey (pictured), chief executive of Formula 1, issued a statement after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, due to take place on June 7, became the eighth event to be pulled from the schedule.
The season is yet to begin after the Australian and Bahrain Grands Prix did not go ahead this month. A debut race in Vietnam, as well as those in China, the Netherlands, Spain and Monaco have also been postponed or cancelled.
After Baku, the next races are scheduled to take place in Canada on 14 June, and in France on 28 June.
A record 22 rounds had been planned for 2020.
Carey wrote: “While at present no one can be certain of exactly when the situation will improve, it will improve and when it does, we will be ready to go racing again. We are all committed to bringing our fans a 2020 Championship season.
“We recognise there is significant potential for additional postponements in currently scheduled events, nonetheless we and our partners fully expect the season to start at some point this summer, with a revised calendar of between 15-18 races.”Formula 1 had already announced it would move its summer break forward to March/April in order to reschedule some races, and Carey said the intention is now to end the season later than the original date of 29 November.
He continued: "It is not possible to provide a more specific calendar now due to the fluidity of the current situation but we expect to gain clearer insights to the situation in each of our host countries, as well as the issues related to travel to these countries, in the coming month."
Last weekend, which would have been the Bahrain Grand Prix, Formula 1 launched the F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix series, which will continue to run in place of the postponed races, and involve current drivers.
Carey said: "This flexibility offers an opportunity to evolve the sport, experiment and try new things. That may include initiatives such as expanding our esports platform, developing more innovative content like Netflix Drive to Survive [the docuseries] and other creative ways to drive ongoing value for the sport’s sponsor partners, broadcast partners, race promoters, teams and fans – the ecosystem of our fantastic sport."