2020 F1 Schedule Update: Why the Season Might Finally Start Aug. 2 in Hungary … or Not

2020 F1 Schedule Update: Why the Season Might Finally Start Aug. 2 in Hungary … or Not

04/08/2020

Don’t go looking for a revised race schedule over at the official Formula 1 website.

There is no official, unofficial or even partial schedule to be found. It’s as if the rash of cancellations and postponements forced by the COVID-19 pandemic has left F1 to pull all the puzzle pieces off the table and start putting together a new picture.

At least there are signs, finally, pointing toward Formula 1 actually having a season this year. While the race slate will fall short of the record 22 races the bigwigs at Liberty Media were originally hoping for (Australia and Monaco are canceled and out of the mix for 2020), a season of 15-18 races could still happen.

The hope was buoyed today by a report in the Daily Mail of London saying that several European countries—many of which host Formula 1 races—are starting to reopen after months of different levels of lockdown due to COVID-19. Those reopen strategies allow one to make the case for an F1 opening day as early as July 19 at Silverstone, England, or more likely Aug. 2 in Hungary.

France (race scheduled for June 28) is the next date on the current schedule, but that race does not appear likely to take place—at least not on June 28. France still has the fifth-largest number of COVID-19 positive cases in the world behind the United States, Spain, Italy and Germany. France has not been bold enough to offer even so much as a strategy for reopening the country, let alone hosting a Formula 1 race.

That puts the spotlight on Austria for July 5. Austria has begun to roll out its plan to return to normal. Small shops are set to begin reopening on April 14, and larger stores and the shopping malls on May 1. Austrian schools hope to open in mid-May. Public events, however, are still expected to be on the country’s banned list until the end of June—likely cutting it too close to pull off a Formula 1 race a week later.

So, let’s say the season starts July 19 at Silverstone. Maybe, though it’s hard to predict that will happen since the COVID-19 numbers in U.K. are still rising. The number of one-day deaths reported from the U.K. (938) on April 8 was second only to that of the United States (1,373). It’s not a good time to ask government leaders about the possibility of an F1 race coming to Silverstone in just three months.

How about being conservative and saying the season kicks off Aug. 2 in Hungary. That country is 66th worldwide in total number of COVID-19 cases. Not a hot spot. On the other hand, the Hungarian government imposed in early March a ban on events of crowds of more than 500. That ban has an indefinite end date.

Or, maybe there won’t be a season at all. The big question is, which of these countries will be anxious to not only open for business but also to lift all the travel restrictions necessary to pull off a world event as big as a Formula 1 race?

“The calendar as we know it today, after all of these postponements—it must be forgotten,” said F1 Canadian Grand Prix promoter Francois Dumontier when discussing the postponement of the race in Montreal. “I even think that between 15 and 18 races, as F1 wants to do, is an optimistic forecast.”

2020 Formula 1 Schedule

March 15 – Australia – canceled

March 22 – Bahrain – postponed (TBD)

April 5 – Vietnam – postponed (TBD)

April 19 – China – postponed (TBD)

May 3 – Netherlands – postponed (TBD)

May 10 – Spain – postponed (TBD)

May 24 – Monaco – canceled

June 7 – Azerbaijan – postponed (TBD)

June 14 – Canada – postponed (TBD)

June 28 – France

July 5 – Austria

July 19 – Great Britain

Aug. 2 – Hungary

Aug. 30 – Belgium

Sept. 6 – Italy

Sept. 20 – Singapore

Sept. 27 – Russia

Oct. 11 – Japan

Oct. 25 – United States (Austin, Texas)

Nov. 1 – Mexico

Nov. 15 – Brazil

Nov. 29 – Abu Dhabi

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