Sports TravelThe 2020 season to kick off in Austria in July, with decision on six races including Vietnam and China pending

Formula One: Some race ahead while others kill the engine

Austria will kickstart the 2020 Formula One season with two closed-door races in July.
Austria will kickstart the 2020 Formula One season with two closed-door races in July. Photo Credit: F1

ZURICH – The 2020 Formula One season will be off to a delayed start in July as organisers received the greenlight to kickstart the season in Austria, with the decision on several races still pending.

Austria will be hosting two closed-door races on July 5 and 12, the country’s health ministry said on Saturday (30 May).

Formula One's 10 teams will be limited to a maximum 80 people each at the races, the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) said on Thursday (28 May). The total number could likely exceed 1,000, including support series and marshals, medical staff and others.

The Austrian event organisers presented a comprehensive, professional security concept to prevent infections, the country's health ministry said on its website, which calls for strict hygiene measures such as regular tests and health checks for teams and their employees.

Formula One is expected to publish a revised calendar early this week. The Austria leg will be followed by a race in neighbouring Hungary, also without spectators. After which, two races will follow at Silverstone in Britain, with Hockenheim in Germany an alternative if quarantine conditions are an obstacle, with further rounds in Spain, Belgium and Italy.

This year’s season was originally to feature a record of 22 races in 22 cities, and four organisers – Australia, Monaco, France and the Netherlands – have since called off this season’s race.

The decision for another six races – Bahrain, Vietnam, China, Spain, Azerbaijan and Canada – remain in doubt as F1 owners Liberty Media are trying to reschedule them for the second half of 2020.

Vietnam, which was originally on track to make its F1 debut in April, will hold the race in November and open only for locals, according to The Vietnam News Agency. Organisers would lose as much as US$35 million in revenue if it was held behind closed doors.

The remaining 12 races have not announced any changes to their schedule.

The Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix is due to make an announcement this week on whether the race will proceed, said Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing on 30 May.

Mr Chan said that promoter Singapore GP is in talks with Formula One to see whether the race, which is scheduled for 18-20 September, will go ahead. "Prior to that, as part of their contractual arrangements, they will have to have some studies done on what is doable and what is not doable," he said.

The Singapore Tourism Board had put up at least four tenders related to the setup of viewing facilities and ancillary activities between February and April.

In late April, F1 chief executive Chase Carey said it hopes to complete between 15-18 races, beginning in Europe through July, August and beginning of September.

"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."

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