The Dutch Grand Prix will return in 2020, as Germany and Spain look set to lose their slots on the 2020 calendar. Elsewhere, the future of the Mexican Grand Prix remains in doubt, the Brazilian President announces a change of venue for the Brazilian Grand Prix and F1 seeks a return to the African continent. Here’s a round-up of all the F1 calendar news from May!
Dutch Grand Prix to return in 2020
The biggest news from May was that the Dutch Grand Prix will return after a 35-year absence. The event will take place at Zandvoort, which hosted the Dutch Grand Prix between 1952 and 1985. The race is expected to be held in May 2020, replacing the Spanish Grand Prix as the opening round of the traditional European season. You can read more about the new deal and the history of the event here.
21 races in 2020
Despite the return of the Dutch Grand Prix and the addition of Vietnam to the calendar for next season, Chase Carey has said that the schedule will remain at 21 races for 2020. With two new races joining the roster, it means that two current events will disappear from the 2020 calendar.
Germany looks set to be one of those races, with the 2019 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim only taking place as a result of a one-year sponsorship deal from Mercedes. Should Mercedes not continue their sponsorship, and if an alternate title sponsor cannot be found, the event looks certain to fall off the calendar.
Catalunya set to lose race, but remain as testing venue
The Spanish Grand Prix is the other race most at risk of losing its spot on the 2020 calendar. At the end of the month, organisers of the event at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya revealed that they were in “urgent” need of help from the government to get their F1 contract renewed. This is despite the president of the circuit telling reporters over the 2019 Spanish Grand Prix weekend that there was a 90% chance of the event remaining on the calendar.
The 2019 running of the race attracted 160,000 fans – a drop of 12,000 compared to the 2018 figure. Despite looking likely to lose the Spanish Grand Prix, teams are keen for the Catalunya circuit to remain as the venue for pre-season testing.
Mexico still at risk
The future of the Mexican Grand Prix has been up in the air for the past few months after a government funding cut put the event’s tenure on the calendar beyond this year’s race in doubt.
Though Mexican driver Sergio Perez has recently reiterated his concerns that the future is bleak for the event, the end of May saw some more promising news, with Autosport claiming that organisers will receive some funding for next year’s race, albeit not at the previous level.
Return to Africa sought
Formula 1 returned to the streets of South Africa in May, as Red Bull held a demo run in Cape Town. The event follows Formula 1’s admission of hopes for a race on the African continent as soon as 2021.
Organisers at the Kyalami circuit, which last hosted the South African Grand Prix in 1993, are known to be interested in reviving the event at their track. Redevelopment work on the track has left the circuit in pole position to host a race on the continent.
An alternative option for a race in Africa appears to be Marrakesh, which would see the return of the Moroccan Grand Prix. Circuit Moulay El Hassan currently hosts Formula E and WTCR. The Moroccan Grand Prix was previously held in 1958, with the Ain-Diab circuit being just one of ten tracks to have held only one Formula 1 Grand Prix. Sean Bratches says that the sport has been approached by Marrakesh for a potential race to be held in the “short term” future.
Brazilian Grand Prix to move to Rio?
There was a surprise announcement from Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro in May, as he revealed that the Brazilian Grand Prix will move from Sao Paulo to a new circuit in Rio from 2020. The President said construction of the track will take less than eight months – an impressive, if not unlikely, target. Brazilian F1 veteran Felipe Massa is among those to cast doubt on the claims, calling the announcement “very strange”. Interlagos currently has a contract to stage the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2020, and local governors have denied that the change of venue will take place.