24 July 2020
The F1 calendar
Formulating the F1 calendar has been a tough job in 2020 with the Covid-19 pandemic playing havoc with the schedules. The F1 group has always said that it wants between 15 and 18 races, although it should perhaps be said that “wants” should be replaced by “needs” as this is the number of events needed for all the big contracts to be actioned. There will obviously need to be some renegotiation because the contracts with TV stations and sponsors were based on 22 races, but it does mean that the teams will get around two-thirds of their planned revenues from the F1 group, which means that while budgets will be tight, they will be able to survive.
Although we have had only three races so far this year, another triple-header due to begin on August 2 at Silverstone and there will then be a third beginning on August 30 in Belgium, with two races in Italy to follow, including the Ferrari 1000thGP at Mugello.
The Russian GP will be a standalone event at the end of September and there will then be the Grand Prix of the Eifel at the Nurburging on October 9-11. This cannot be the German Grand Prix as the rights to the event are owned by the Automobilclub von Deutschland (AvD), which runs its races at Hockenheim. This suggests that the race at the Nurburgring will be run by rival club Allgemeiner Deutsche Automobil-Club (ADAC). The name is something of a throwback in racing history as one of the big annual events at the Ring was always the “Eifelrennen” (which means the “Eifel races”).
The new race in Portugal has been rumoured for months and will take place at the impressive Portimao, in the Algarve (on October 23-25) with the Grand Prix of Emilia Romagna at Imola on October 31-November 1.
This will be a new two-day format which may be a good thing as the weather in Italy may not be outstanding at that time of year.
With 13 races now listed the F1 group is basically safe from a contractual point of view as there will definitely be three races in the Middle East in early December: two at Bahrain and one in Abu Dhabi. That will bring the total to 16 and there continues to be talk of Vietnam, although we will have to see whether that actually happens. The plan in Hanoi is that the organisers want to have fans present but does not want international visitors and, at the same time, there are fears that holding a race that late in the year may impact on the 2021 race, which would normally be held in April.
What all this means is that F1 will not be going to the Americas in 2020. The races in Canada, Austin, Mexico and Brazil have all been called off because of the difficulties involved in transporting the F1 circus into countries that have had very high rates of infection. It’s a tough call, but in the end it was deemed to be essential.
“We are pleased that we continue to make strong progress in finalising our plans for the 2020 season and are excited to welcome Nürburgring, Portimão and Imola to the revised calendar,” said Chase Carey. “We want to thank the promoters, the teams, and the FIA for their full support in our efforts to bring our fans exciting racing this season during an unprecedented time. We also want to pay tribute to our incredible partners in the Americas and look forward to being back with them next season when they will once again be able to thrill millions of fans around the world.”