Formula 1 CEO Chase Carey has laid out what the 2020 calendar may look like with 15-to-18 races amid growing confidence of starting the season this summer.
The first 10 races of the 2020 season have been called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the French Grand Prix becoming the latest race to be cancelled on Monday morning.
Plans are in the works for the Austrian Grand Prix to take place on 5 July behind closed doors, with a trimmed-down number of paddock personnel to help comply with the restrictions in place.
The European rounds would take place in July, August and September – initially behind closed doors – before the events in Asia and the Americas.
Bahrain and Abu Dhabi would then form the final races of the season, taking place in December.
“Although this morning it was announced that the French Grand Prix, due to take place in late June, will not be going ahead, we are now increasingly confident with the progress of our plans to begin our season this summer,” Carey wrote.
“We’re targeting a start to racing in Europe through July, August and beginning of September, with the first race taking place in Austria on 3-5 July weekend.
“September, October and November, would see us race in Eurasia, Asia and the Americas, finishing the season in the Gulf in December with Bahrain before the traditional finale in Abu Dhabi, having completed between 15-18 races.
“We will publish our finalised calendar as soon as we possibly can.”
Carey’s comments match up with his previous target of a 15-to-18 race calendar, but offer more structure in terms of locations.
F1 requires at least eight races across three continents to classify as a world championship in 2020.
Carey confirmed the early races on the calendar would be behind closed doors, but hoped national restrictions would be eased later in the season to allow fans to attend races.
“We expect the early races to be without fans but hope fans will be part of our events as we move further into the schedule,” Carey said.
“We still have to work out many issues like the procedures for the teams and our other partners to enter and operate in each country.
“The health and safety of all involved will continue to be priority one and we will only go forward if we are confident we have reliable procedures to address both risks and possible issues.
“The FIA, teams, promoters, and other key partners have been working with us throughout these steps and we want to thank them for all their support and efforts during this incredibly challenging time.
“We also want to recognise the fact that the teams have been supporting us at the same time that they have been focusing enormous and heroic efforts to build ventilators to help those infected by COVID-19.”
Carey has been engaged in talks with all 10 teams and the FIA over future plans to safeguard F1 teams ahead of an anticipated economic hit sparked by the pandemic.
Teams are currently pushing for a reduced budget cap, with some looking to bring the figure down to $100 million as of next year to make the sport more sustainable.
Carey said the plans coming from the ongoing discussions would help “strengthen the long term future of Formula 1” and “make it a healthier business for all involved, particularly as we engage the issues created by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Carey added: “All of our plans are obviously subject to change as we still have many issues to address and all of us are subject to the unknowns of the virus.
“We all want the world to return to the one we know and cherish, yet we recognise it must be done in the right and safest way.
“We look forward to doing our part by enabling our fans to once again safely share the excitement of Formula 1 with family, friends, and the broader community.”