By Neil Leverett
- Austrian Grand Prix in Spielberg tentatively pinpointed for Formula 1 resumption in July
- British GP part of further plans with two races discussed for Silverstone
- Nine races have already been shelved, as coronavirus decimates 2020 season
FORMULA 1 – As the sporting world calendar rolls into spring still in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic, hope springs eternal of a Formula 1 season resumption in July.
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With the latter stages of April well in motion and the sound of bird song in the air, the 2020 sporting calendar nevertheless remains in the relentless grip of coronavirus – now into its’ third month of European outbreak.
As the world grapples with a very different way of life for the time being, Formula 1 fans across the globe have like many other of the sporting fraternity been left to palate a virtual landscape.
This past weekend the F1 roadshow was set to touch down in Shanghai for Round Four of the campaign in China – the very source of the global emergency – however with motorsport shelved for the immediate fortune, the seeds of hope have now been sewn of a summer return from hiatus.
Red Bull Ring return?
With nine races of the season having already been torn asunder from the 2020 diary, this past week however, the voice of optimism was raised by Red Bull boss Christian Horner.
Taking part in Sky F1’s Vodcast on Thursday, Horner, whose team owns the Spielberg track in Austria stated the circuit was a ‘ready-made facility’ and following on from Ross Brawn‘s words last week that a race could take place without fans, July could yet be given the green light.
Horner said: The Red Bull Ring is a ready-made facility, it can be ready in a very short period of time to fit the FIA’s criteria. The prospect of being able to run a race behind closed doors is absolutely feasible.
It’s something that Austria [promoters] and Red Bull are looking at but of course they’ve got to work with the local authorities and governments. And so at the moment it’s just under discussion.”
The French Grand Prix is still officially penned for June 28 – the only remaining Round of the opening ten yet to be shelved – however as with most of Europe huge restrictions remain on movement, plans for Le Castellet continue to be shrouded in huge doubt.
With Austria set to pick up the reins the following weekend – and with the alpine country having encountered fewer cases of coronavirus and with their own restrictions having lifted somewhat – Austria could be the literal light at the end of the tunnel.
Silverstone double date planned
As part of initial plans to resume – indeed begin – the new season, the British Grand Prix could also step into play its’ part and could now stage two separate races this summer.
Though the rather large asterisk also remains over whether the actual British GP will take place – with large social gatherings set to be banned in the UK banned until further notice – the option of back-to-back races in the Northamptonshire countryside in July makes for an intriguing prospect.
With the proviso of empty stands at Silverstone also, BBC Sport further notes that early discussions have been held for the British GP to be staged as planned over the weekend of July 17-19, but with a further Round staged shortly after on the circuit.
In spite of plans taking shape away from the track in the wake of the continued battle against COVID-19, F1 bosses remain adamant however in the their staunch words, that they do not want to start the season if indeed it cannot be finished. That remains a distinctly thorny obstacle.
For all the whispers of optimism, the still very fluid circumstances of COVID-19 keep any hope of a mere step toward normality, on a day-to-day time frame.
Whilst Virtual GPs in Melbourne, Bahrain and China have been held on corresponding weekends, F1 fans continue to be left pining for the real thing to return in as timely manner as possible.
Should racing recommence sooner rather than later, the rather surreal prospect of a string of races being held in front of empty stands of adoring motorsport junkies, will in itself leave an air of the dystopian about the 2020 season.
Doubt remains rife over F1 in 20020 just as with global sporting competition, but the hope that hiatus may not be as long a previously feared continues to drive Formula 1 on. July, now seems like an attainable goal to aim for, but in the shorter term, much has to fall into place for that to become a reality.
Follow Britwatch Sports for the latest news on COVID-19 and its’ impact on the 2020 calendar.
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