It’s Getting Harder to Imagine Any Formula 1 Races before August
The only news in real racing these days continues to be postponements, cancellations and revised schedules that are difficult to take seriously.
No one—especially not racing series leaders—knows when the cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic will finally lift and allow life to get back to some semblance of normality.
Being a global racing series, Formula 1 may face the biggest hurdles of all major racing series. Travel restrictions, government-mandated restrictions on social distancing and quarantines put racing in perspective.
Canadian Patrick Carpentier, a former IndyCar and NASCAR driver, is already pushing back any start date for Formula 1 beyond the current next race on what’s left of the 2020 race schedule, the Canadian Grand Prix. That race is scheduled for June 14 on the latest F1 schedule.
Carpentier, speaking to the French language Montreal media outlet La Presse, said he can’t see the Canadian Grand Prix happening in June. In the article, he gave the race a “10%” chance of happening.
Carpentier said that if F1 pulled the plug on the Australian Grand Prix because of a positive case of coronavirus, there’s no way F1 will conduct races that don’t include Ferrari—a team based in Europe’s hardest-hit country.
“Ferrari is an important part of F1, so if they canceled Melbourne because McLaren was affected by the coronavirus, they will not come to Montreal because Ferrari will not be there,” Carpentier said. “And right now, it would be very, very, very frowned upon for Ferrari to go racing while nearly 1,000 people are dying (in Italy) every day.”
Formula 1 organizers clearly are unsure of when or even if a 2020 season can take place. So far, eight of the 21 races have officially been postponed or canceled. F1 rules say a minimum of eight races must be contested to consider it a championship season.
The series this week even removed the 2020 schedule from its website, replacing the page with a statement saying in part, “As stated recently our intention is to start the 2020 season at some point this summer. … We are all committed to bringing our fans a 2020 championship season.”
In addition to Canada, other races that seem in line to be canceled or postponed any day now would appear to be the French Grand Prix (June 28), British Grand Prix (July 19) and Italian Grand Prix (Sept. 6).
According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, France, as of April 2, is fourth in the world for number of deaths from the COVID-19, trailing only Italy, Spain and the United States. Sporting officials in the U.K. this past week canceled the world’s most famous tennis tournament at Wimbledon, England (originally scheduled for June 29 through July 12).
Should F1 lose Canada, France and the British GP, that would make Austria (July 5) the only race scheduled before August. But will all teams, with travel restrictions likely to still be in place, even be able to get to Austria just three months from now?
“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,” F1 chief executive Chase Carey also said on the Formula 1 website. “We and our partners fully expect the season to start at some point this summer.”
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