2020 French GP cancelled, F1 targets July to start season behind closed doors

The organisers of the 2020 French Grand Prix have announced that the race, due to take place at the Paul Ricard circuit at the end of June, will not go ahead this year. The French GP becomes the 10th Formula 1 race to be cancelled or postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The race was cancelled in part due to the decision from the French government to ban all major events until at least middle of July. Coupled with the worldwide travel restrictions in place to prevent the spread of the virus, meant it would be impossible for the Grand Prix to go ahead as planned.

2019 French GP saw Lewis Hamilton taking victory

Following the announcement from the organisers of the French GP, Formula 1 CEO Chase Carey said in a statement that the franchise is now targeting to begin racing in July, and is “increasingly confident” with the progress of their plans to start the season in summer.

“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.”

However, the early races will most likely to be held behind closed doors. F1 remains hopeful to have fans to be part of the races at the later stages. “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,” Carey adds.

The sentiment is shared by the organisers of the British Grand Prix. Silverstone chief, Stuart Pringle has also confirmed that any British Grand Prix, should it happen this year, will be held behind closed doors. “I am extremely disappointed to tell you that we are unable to stage this year’s British Grand Prix in front of the fans at Silverstone.

“We have left this difficult decision for as long as possible, but it is abundantly clear given the current conditions in the country and the government requirements in place now and for the foreseeable future, that a Grand Prix under normal conditions is just not going to be possible,” added Pringle.

With the 2020 season put on hold, F1 organisers and drivers turn to virtual racing to keep fans engaged.

Earlier this month, Formula 1 Chief of Motorsports Ross Brawn said that the “drop dead point” to begin the season will be in October, in order to achieve the minimum eight-race requirement set by the FIA to maintain the validity of the world championship.

However, he added that it would be possible to hold a 18- or 19-race season, if it begins in July. “[It would be] tough – three races on, one weekend off, three races on, one weekend off. We have looked at all the logistics, and we think we can hold an 18-19 race season if we can get started at the beginning of July. The choice is between those two numbers.”


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