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2020 French GP cancelled as F1 outlines plan to race in the second half of 2020

The 2020 French Grand Prix has become the latest race to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Race organisers have also announced that any British Grand Prix will take place behind closed doors, and Chase Carey has provided an update on the status of the 2020 Formula 1 calendar.

The 2020 French Grand Prix, originally scheduled for 26-28 June, has been cancelled. Following the recent announcement that all major events in France were to be cancelled until at least the middle of July, the cancellation of the French Grand Prix seemed inevitable. In a statement, Eric Bouiller, the recently-appointed Managing Director of the event, noted that holding the race would be “impossible” under current circumstances: “Given the evolution of the situation linked to the spread of the Covid-19 virus, the French Grand Prix takes note of the decisions announced by the French State making it impossible to maintain our event. The eyes of the GIP Grand Prix de France – Le Castellet are already turning towards the summer of 2021 in order to offer our spectators an even more unprecedented event at the heart of the Région Sud.” Race organisers say that refunds for ticket holders will be made available in the coming days on www.gpfrance.com, and that they are committed to providing refunds for associated purchases, such as camping, shuttle bus tickets and parking fees.

British Grand Prix behind closed doors

Given that the majority of Formula 1’s teams are based in Britain, the British Grand Prix could be one of the easier events to organise in 2020. However, any race at Silverstone this year will take place behind closed doors. In a statement, Silverstone’s Managing Director Stuart Pringle said that protecting the health of all involved is the priority: “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. Our obligations to protect the health and safety of everyone involved in preparing and delivering the event, our volunteer marshals and Race Makers, and of course, you, the amazing fans, means that this is the best, safest and only decision we could make. We have consistently said that should we find ourselves in this position we will support Formula 1 as they seek to find alternative ways to enable F1 racing to take place this year.”
For the last two years, the British Grand Prix has been the best attended race of the season, with over 350,000 fans attending the race weekend in 2019. Ticket holders for the 2020 British Grand Prix will have the option of either a full refund or transferring their purchase to the 2021 British Grand Prix. All ticket holders will be contacted within the next two weeks. Pringle has also announced an intention to give away thousands of free tickets for next year’s event to NHS staff and other key workers.

An update on the 2020 calendar

Following the news about the French and British Grands Prix, Chase Carey released a statement in which he said F1 is “increasingly confident” with plans to start racing in Europe in the summer. The Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring on 3-5 July is currently expected to be the first race of the season, with Carey estimating the possibility for between 15 and 18 races to be held this year. He says that the calendar will progress through Europe in the summer, before moving to Asia and the Americas in the Autumn and finishing in the Middle East in December. Abu Dhabi will maintain its spot as the season finale, albeit potentially on a later date than previously intended. It is hoped that races towards the back end of the season will be able to take place with spectators. Carey says that a finalised calendar will be made available as soon as possible.

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