After a 217-day wait, the 2020 Formula One season has an official start date. Much to the relief of F1 fans around the globe, the tentative eight-race calendar for the European leg has been confirmed, dismissing rumours that the 2020 season was getting suspended.
However, due to the ongoing fluidity of the COVID-19 situation internationally, Formula One event organisers are yet to finalise the details of the full calendar. Optimistically, fans can expect a total of 15-18 races before the season ends in December.
The third longest off-season in the sports history will end on 3rd July at the Red Bull Ring for Austrian Grand Prix. Austria would be the first of this year’s double headers, hosting the second race the following week, with the Hungarian GP following after a two-week break.
The highly anticipated second double-header will be taking place in Silverstone on the 2nd and 9th August respectively, which coincides with the 70th Anniversary of the British GP at Silverstone.
The remaining three races include the Spanish GP (14th – 16th August), the Belgium GP (August 28th – 30th) and the Italian GP (September 4th – 6th). This ensures that the eight-race requirement for a Formula One season to be legitimate is fulfilled, just in-case no other events open up.
As an added bonus, the main Formula 1 races will be supported by both the junior race series, Formula 2 and Formula 3.
Chairman and CEO of Formula One, Chase Carey said ,” In the past weeks we have been working tirelessly with all our partners, the FIA and the teams to create a revised opening 2020 calendar allowing us to restart racing in the safest possible way. We are pleased to be able to set out our opening eight-race calendar today and look forward to publishing our full calendar in the coming weeks. I want to thank every promoter and partner for their support and ongoing commitment to Formula One.”
Although the excitement is palpable among the motorsports community, the very real danger of the coronavirus is still the foremost concern when running events at the magnitude of a Formula One grand prix. In order to make sure the health and well-being of all crew and staff members are maintained, the organisers have ensured to take the necessary precautions prior to and during races.
Among the actions to be taken include regular COVID-19 screening for all personnel attending the race prior to being allowed to attend the event. In the event any positive cases are identified on the paddock, organisers have robust contingency plans to allow effective contact tracing and rapid testing to isolate the affected individuals.
To reduce the exposure of large groups of people, as of now all races will be held behind closed doors, without the presence of spectators or guest. As only essential personnel are permitted within the circuit area, Formula One organisers have further mandated a reduction of the number of personnel permitted for the event, including those from the FIA, suppliers and F1 itself.
All personnel attending races are required to travel in an isolated manner, using charter flights and private transportation where possible. With staff having been tested negative prior to arrival, this ‘bubble’ prevents unnecessary interaction with the larger, untested crowd. Moreover, social distancing will be strictly enforced, especially during pre and post activities such as the national anthem, parc ferme and cool down rooms.
F1 has definitely faced a challenging 2020, with many teams feeling the financial pinch, such as McLaren and Williams. However, the confirmation of the eight races and robust contingencies in place, there is now a strong belief that this season can be turned around amidst a global crisis.