F1 Calendar News: February 2020 Round-Up

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The outbreak of coronavirus poses a threat to the Chinese Grand Prix, Saudi Arabia could join the calendar in 2021 and plans for the Miami Grand Prix are refined. Here’s a round-up of all the latest Formula 1 calendar news!

Coronavirus threat to Chinese Grand Prix

The outbreak of coronavirus in China poses a serious threat to the 2020 Chinese Grand Prix, currently scheduled to take place on April 19. There have been close to 20,000 confirmed cases and almost 400 deaths from the virus so far. The FIA says it is ready to take action over the event, having already cancelled the Formula E race on China’s Sanya island scheduled for March 21.

Other high profile sporting events, such as the World Indoor Athletics Championship, have also been cancelled. Furthermore, promoters of the Vietnam Grand Prix – a country which shares a border with China – are also “actively monitoring” the situation.

Saudi Arabia to join F1 calendar?

Formula 1 could be racing in Saudi Arabia from 2023 onwards. Detailed plans for a new track outside capital Riyadh have been put forward. The track has been designed by former driver Alex Wurz. Other Formula 1 personalities such as Damon Hill, Romain Grosjean and David Coulthard were at the launch event in January. The Daily Mail suggests that a one-off street race could be held in Jeddah in 2021 before the event moves to its permanent home in 2022.

Given the country’s human rights record, a Grand Prix in Saudi Arabia would be a controversial move. Organisers of the Bahrain Grand Prix have said that they would welcome a race in Saudi Arabia. If both Saudi Arabia and Miami join the calendar, the 2021 schedule could grow to 24 races.

Changes to Miami Grand Prix plans

Organisers of the proposed Miami Grand Prix have made a number of changes to their plans following feedback from local residents. The new track configuration still utilises the area around Hard Rock Stadium, but now will not use Northwest 199th Street in order to avoid traffic disruption. It has also been agreed that no on-track action would take place before 3pm on the Friday of the Grand Prix weekend, to ensure there is no disruption to local schools.

2020 F1 race times confirmed

Session times for the 2020 F1 season have been confirmed. Among the changes, both the British and United States Grands Prix will begin one hour later than in 2019. Meanwhile, the Japanese Grand Prix will start an hour later than in 2019. The first Vietnam race will start at 14:10 local time, while the Dutch Grand Prix will begin at the usual European race time of 15:10.

Leclerc releases grandstand tickets

Charles Leclerc has announced that fans will be able to buy tickets in his own grandstands at both the Monaco and French Grands Prix. The Monaco Grand Prix deal is particularly good, offering a saving of over €200 for weekend tickets. Read our in-depth analysis on the rising popularity of F1 driver grandstands.

Hanoi pit building complete

Preparations for the first Vietnam Grand Prix continued last month. Following updates to the track layout in December, January saw the completion of the new pit building. The architecture is influenced by Hanoi’s historic buildings. The race is scheduled to take place on April 3-5. More information can be found in our Hanoi Travel Guide.

In other Vietnam Grand Prix news, promoters have urged local hotels to keep their room prices at reasonable rates. Many destinations on the Formula 1 calendar charge inflated rates over the Grand Prix weekend.

W Series to race at F1 weekends

W Series will be on the Formula 1 support bill at both the United States and Mexican Grands Prix in 2020. The all-female racing series enters its second season in 2020, where reigning champion Jamie Chadwick will be defending the title. This year, the series will offer FIA superlicense points for the top eight drivers in the championship. W Series remains as a support event for the DTM series for six of its eight races in 2020. The two events in the United States and Mexico will form a double header at the end of the season and will be the first W Series races to take place outside of Europe.

Other news in brief:

  • RaceFans report that there will be three F1 Fan Festivals in 2020 – in Kyalami, London and New York. Teams are unhappy with the scheduling of the London event, which is planned for May 16-17, between the Spanish and Monaco Grands Prix.
  • Jean Todt made headlines in January by suggesting that those working in Formula 1 are “blessed” and “privileged” and as such there should be no complaints about the growing calendar. In stark contrast, Jonathan Noble’s article on motorsport.com highlights the effect which an expanding calendar can have on those who work in the sport.
  • Sean Bratches left his role as Formula 1’s commercial boss at the end of January in order to spend more time with his family. He will continue to work with F1 in an advisory role.
  • Robbie Williams will perform in Melbourne over Australian Grand Prix weekend. He will headline the launch of World Tour on Saturday March 14.
  • New drone footage shows progress made at Zandvoort in recent weeks. The Dutch Grand Prix returns on May 3.
  • Eric Boullier has taken up a new role as Managing Director of the French Grand Prix. Boullier has been part of the French Grand Prix team since February 2019.
  • Argentina is considering a return to the Formula 1 calendar, according to Inside Racing. F1 last visited the Autódromo Oscar Alfredo Gálvez in Buenos Aires in 1998.
  • Organisers of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix claim that the event has contributed over $500m to the local economy since the Baku City Circuit joined the F1 calendar in 2016.

Do you think the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix will join the F1 calendar? Leave a comment below!

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About the Author ()

Nicky Haldenby is a Formula One writer from Scarborough, England. Having grown up with F1 often on the TV on Sunday afternoons, Nicky has been following the sport avidly since 2006. After graduating from University in 2015 with a First Class degree in English Language and Literature, he founded his own F1 website and now regularly writes articles about both the sport's history and current affairs.

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