Formula One considering races without spectators to restart season - GulfToday

Formula One considering races without spectators to restart season


Most likely races will be held at European circuits once the season is able to start after being stalled by the new coronavirus pandemic. File / Reuters

Formula One is considering holding closed races without spectators, most likely at European circuits, once the season is able to start after being stalled by the new coronavirus pandemic.

The Australian opener on March 15 was cancelled and every race up to the French Grand Prix on June 28 has been postponed so far.

Formula One’s motorsport managing director Ross Brawn says that a season of anywhere between eight and 19 races could still be possible.

“At the moment we’re looking at the logistics of a closed race, how would we get the people there, how would we protect them, how would we make it safe, who would we allow into the paddock,” he told Sky Sports. ”Every permutation is being discussed.”

Last month’s Bahrain Grand Prix was due to be held without spectators, a first for the sport, before it had to be postponed.

Formula One has brought forward and extended its August break from March through to May to clear the European summer for a rescheduled calendar that could see races on successive weekends and into the New Year.

Brawn said safety and travel were big issues and a European start was most likely even if much of the continent is currently in lockdown with movement restricted as countries fight to contain the virus.

“We could have a very enclosed environment where the teams come in on charters, we channel them into the circuit, we make sure everyone’s tested, cleared, there’s no risk to anyone and we have a race without spectators,” he added.

“That’s not great, but I think it’s still better than no racing at all.

“I think we have to remember there’s millions of people that follow the sport sat at be able to put on a sport and entertain people would be a huge bonus with this crisis we have.”

Le Castellet, the French Grand Prix venue, is situated on a plateau in the south with its own airstrip, luxury hotel and few access roads.

Austria’s Red Bull Ring is also a rural circuit while the British Grand Prix circuit at Silverstone is a short drive from seven of the 10 teams’ headquarters.

Brawn said there was no point starting the season unless it could be kept going, with eight races the minimum necessary for a viable championship.

“We could achieve eight races by starting in October. So if you wanted a drop dead point it would be October,” he said when asked about a deadline.

“But then there’s always the possibility we could run into next year...and that’s being explored, could we stray into January to finish the season.”

“If we were to start at the beginning of July, we could do a 19-race season,” he added, outlining a scenario of multiple races on successive weekends.

Brawn suggested some races, such as China, could also be condensed into two days.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Grand Prix has been postponed as the coronavirus continues to impact the Formula One calendar. Montreal was due to host the first race of the disrupted 2020 schedule, but Covid-19 has seen the event postponed.

A statement on the official F1 website read: “We would have been honoured to host the first race on the 2020 Formula 1 World Championship calendar, but we are saddened to have to announce the postponement of the Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix 2020 scheduled for June 12-14, 2020.

“This postponement was not a decision that was taken lightly or easily. Over the past month, we have been in constant communication with Formula 1 and representatives from the city of Montreal, Tourism Montreal and both provincial and federal governments.

“We have heard the directives issued by public health officials and as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic are following the expert guidance provided by the authorities.”


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