Formula 1’s “drop dead point” to start the 2020 season is October and the sport is open to a behind-closed-doors start, according to Ross Brawn.
Following yesterday’s news of the postponement of the Canadian Grand Prix, the first nine races of the season have so far been postponed or cancelled, leaving the French GP on June 28 as the first event currently on the calendar. Brawn – who is managing director of motorsports – says the season could start as late as October, and believes up to 19 races could still be held if the situation allows a first race in July.
“Eight races is the minimum we can have a world championship, [according to] the FIA Statutes,” Brawn told Sky Sports. “We could achieve eight races by starting in October. So if you wanted a drop dead point it would be October.
“But then there is always the possibility we could run into next year. That’s being explored. Can we stray into January to finish the season? There are all sorts of complications, as you can imagine, with that.
“If we were able to start at the beginning of July we could do a 19-race season. (It would be) tough – three races on, one weekend off, three races on, one weekend off. We have looked at all the logistics, and we think we can hold an 18-19 race season if we can get started at the beginning of July. The choice is between those two numbers.”
The Monaco Grand Prix has already been cancelled, and with Melbourne unlikely to be rescheduled the 19-race target would leave only one round from the original calendar missing out. Two-day race weekends are a consideration to allow that condensed schedule to work, but Brawn says starting as early as possible – even without fans on site – is a major consideration for F1.
“Travel for the teams and travel for everyone involved is going to be one of the big issues,” he said. “You could argue once we get there we could become fairly self-contained.
“Our view is probably a European start will be favorable and that could even be a closed event. We could have a very enclosed environment, where teams come in on charters, we channel them into the circuit, we make sure everyone is tested, cleared and that there is no risk to anyone.
“We have a race with no spectators. That’s not great, but it’s better than no racing at all. We have to remember there are millions of people who follow the sport sat at home. A lot of them are isolating and to be able to keep the sport alive and put on a sport and entertain people would be a huge bonus in this crisis we have. But we can’t put anyone at risk.
“We’re looking at the organizational structure which would give us the earliest start. But also the ability to maintain that start. There’s no point having a start and then stopping again for a while. It’s most likely to be in Europe. It’s conceivable that it could be a closed event.”