Silverstone has concerns over the addition of a London Grand Prix, Spa-Francorchamps seeks a lowered hosting fee and preparations continue for the 2020 Dutch Grand Prix. Here’s a round up of all the Formula 1 calendar news from June 2019!
2020 F1 Calendar not yet decided
The World Motor Sport Council met in June, but the 2020 Formula 1 calendar was not a point of discussion. The 2019/2020 Formula E calendar was agreed, as was an extension to the deadline for deciding F1’s 2021 regulations, but there was no news on next year’s F1 calendar.
It does seem, however, that the starting date of the 2020 season has been set. The Australian Grand Prix weekend has been pencilled in for 13-15 March, with Supercars once again appearing on the support bill. Organisers were keen for a mid-March date in order to avoid a clash with the start of the Australian Football League season. It will be the earliest start to a Formula 1 season since 2015.
Last year, the draft calendar for the 2019 season was not revealed until the end of August, whereas a provisional calendar was normally announced in June under Bernie Ecclestone’s leadership.
Silverstone concerned by London GP plans
There’s yet to be news on whether the 55th British Grand Prix held at Silverstone will be the last. British drivers have been out in force in support of the iconic Silverstone circuit. Lewis Hamilton wishes for a compromise, saying that the sport “can’t turn its back” on Silverstone, while George Russell commented that there is “no way Formula 1 could go without Silverstone on its calendar”.
Hamilton also said that a second British race in London would be “awesome”. Liberty’s plan to add a London race to the schedule is to believed to be a stumbling block in Silverstone securing a new deal. In an interview with the BBC, Silverstone’s managing director Stuart Pringle said that Liberty have openly expressed a desire to hold a race in London. Organisers fear a second race in Britain would decrease ticket sales, putting Silverstone’s financial situation more at risk.
If Silverstone does remain on the calendar for 2020, the circuit may host one of F1’s two in-season test events.
Spa looks for lower hosting fee
Silverstone isn’t the only circuit with concerns about future calendar additions. The addition of Zandvoort to the calendar is causing a headache for organisers of the Belgian Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen’s legion of fans have boosted attendance figures at the event in recent years, with thousands of Dutch spectators hopping over the border to show their support. Spa-Francorchamps is located 300km away from the Dutch circuit, and organisers fear that attendance figures in Belgium will decline. However, it is understood that when Spa-Francorchamps signed a new three-year extension in 2018, a clause in the contract stated that they’d be able to apply for a lower hosting fee if the Dutch Grand Prix was reinstated onto the calendar. If this is unsuccessful, the future of the Belgian race may be in jeopardy.
Dutch GP tickets prices revealed
Ticket prices for the 2020 Dutch Grand Prix have been revealed. 3-Day General Admission tickets will set you back €185, which is comparatively expensive based on ticket prices for the 2019 season. Fans who registered for tickets are eligible to request their tickets until 9th July.
FIA Race Director Michael Masi visited the Zandvoort circuit at the end of the month to discuss planned changes to the track ahead of the race. One such change includes adding 18-degree banking to the final corner. Meanwhile, F2 team boss Sander Dorsman says that the circuit is capable of hosting a full support race package in 2020.
The Dutch Grand Prix is expected to take place in May, though organisers are keen to avoid certain dates. The weekend of 3-4 May marks both Remembrance Day and Liberation Day, while the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest will take place in the country later in the month. If the latter is held in Amsterdam on the same weekend as the race, the two events would put a strain on public transport. Official Ticket Packages from F1 Experiences are already on sale for the 2020 Dutch Grand Prix.
France traffic chaos avoided
Ahead of the 2019 French Grand Prix, strategic advisor Eric Bouiller appeared confident that the event’s traffic problems of 2018 would not be repeated. He was correct with his assessment, with traffic flowing freely in and out of Circuit Paul Ricard over the weekend. After Free Practice for the event, Bouiller revealed that 9,000 more fans had been to the circuit on Friday than had been able to attend on the Friday in 2018. He also revealed ticket sales for the weekend were around 135,000 – a decrease of 25,000 from 2018.
While access improved, the racing at the former test track left a lot to be desired. Some even claimed it was the worst race they’d ever seen.