Formula 1 CEO Chase Carey says that the racing series is becoming “increasingly confident” about restarting its season sometime this summer, though he acknowledges that the first races will likely be held without fans.
Carey shared his thoughts in a statement that appeared on the Formula 1 website on Monday morning.
Modified Formula 1 Schedule Could Begin in Austria
Organizers canceled the June 28 French Grand Prix on Monday morning. That means that the Austrian Grand Prix, scheduled for the July 3-5 weekend, could potentially be the first race of a modified F1 schedule.
“We’re targeting a start to racing in Europe through July, August and [the] beginning of September, with the first race taking place in Austria on 3-5 July weekend,” Carey said in the statement. “September, October and November would see us race in Eurasia, Asia and the Americas, finishing the season in the Gulf in December with Bahrain before the traditional finale in Abu Dhabi, having completed between 15-18 races.”
The 2020 F1 calendar started with 22 Grand Prix events. The schedule began on March 15 with the Australian Grand Prix. Organizers canceled that event, with the Monaco Grand Prix also deciding to cancel rather than postpone its race. Seven other races have chosen to postpone their dates.
Carey says that logistical issues could create problems for early races, but believes F1 will be able to work around them.
“We expect the early races to be without fans, but hope fans will be part of our events as we move further into the schedule,” Carey wrote. “We still have to work out many issues like the procedures for the teams and our other partners to enter and operate in each country. The health and safety of all involved will continue to be priority one, and we will only go forward if we are confident we have reliable procedures to address both risks and possible issues.”
Carey also praised F1 teams for their efforts to support the COVID-19 response, including through the production of ventilators. The statement suggested that Formula 1 officials would be working on new regulations to help the sport thrive after the pandemic.
Hamilton Enters Season as Favorite Over Field
However, like everything else in the current world, Carey noted that these plans could change depending on the course of the pandemic.
“All of our plans are obviously subject to change as we still have many issues to address, and all of us are subject to the unknowns of the virus,” Carey said. “We look forward to doing our part [in returning the world to normal] by enabling our fans to once again safely share the excitement of Formula 1 with family, friends, and the broader community.”
Lewis Hamilton will enter the modified 2020 season as the three-time defending Formula 1 champion and the favorite to win another title this year. Hamilton has won five of the past six F1 championships, and six titles in total. PointsBet sees Hamilton as a -182 pick to win the 2020 Drivers’ Championship, over Max Verstappen (+400), and Valtteri Bottas (+700).