F1 unveils first eight races of revised 2020 calendar
The 2020 season of motor racing’s Formula 1 will finally get under way in Austria next month, the first of eight behind-closed-door European races condensed into 10 weeks.
The campaign was due to start in March but has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement, Formula 1 said the championship would begin across three consecutive weekends – two in Austria on 5 and 12 July and the third in Hungary on 19 July.
There will then be a two-week break before two consecutive events in the UK at Silverstone on 2 and 9 August, followed by the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona on 16 August.
The Belgian and Italian Grands Prix will end the European part of the season on their original dates of 30 August and 6 September, respectively.
All the races will be held without spectators and participants will have to follow strict guidelines and have regular tests to minimise the spread of Covid-19.
The series has been working to salvage the remnants of its postponed 2020 season after the season was suspended before it was scheduled to begin in March.
Last month Liberty Media, the US media giant and owner of the series, issued Formula 1’s first quarter financial results showing a significant drop in revenue, reaching only $39 million in the first three months of 2020 as opposed to $246 million for the same period last year.
In April, it announced it had increased the sport’s liquidity and given some of its teams advanced payments to ensure their survival through the suspension of the sport.
Chase Carey, the sport’s chief executive, said: “I want to thank every promoter and partner for their support and ongoing commitment for Formula 1. While we currently expect the season to commence without fans at our races we hope that over the coming months the situation will allow us to welcome them back once it is safe to do, but we know the return of Formula 1 will be a welcome boost to sports fans around the world.”
Carey added plans for the rest of the season will be announced further down the line due to the uncertainty of the health crisis in other host countries. However, he expects to have “a total of 15-18 races before we complete our season in December”.
The series has previously said it is confident it can finish the championship with races in Bahrain on 6 December and Abu Dhabi on 13 December.
Meanwhile, The Memento Group, the UK-based sports memorabilia business and partner of Liberty Media, is targeting new sports sectors following investment into an auction platform.
The business operates F1Authentics.com, the official memorabilia platform for Formula 1, and the Paddock Club boutique at grands prix around the world, auctioning and selling official memorabilia licensed by teams and re-purposing items to create limited edition race products.
Barry Gough, chief executive of The Memento Group, said: “Authentic memorabilia and re-engineered good have a unique power. They open the door for sports brands and sponsors alike to build long lasting relationships with fans built on that shared moment, where their team scored or that special driver crossed the line.”
• The organisers of motorcycling's MotoGP World Championship have announced the cancellation of the Japanese Grand Prix in Motegi.
The race was due to take place on 18 October but has been called off because of the logistical challenges amid the pandemic. The British and Australian rounds were cancelled for similar reasons last week.
The delayed 2020 season is expected to finally get under way with two races in Jerez in Spain on 19 and 26 July.
It is envisaged that most of the events will be held in Europe, with overseas races only possible from mid-November onwards, too late for the Japanese round.Sportcal