Talks are ongoing about hosting the Canadian Grand Prix behind closed doors this year, but there are still concerns about the spread of COVID-19 and funding.
Last year’s race in Montreal was postponed and later cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, but the event took up its usual slot on the calendar for this season and is scheduled to be held on June 13. However, with the race part of a back-to-back with Azerbaijan, and with COVID-19 cases in Canada rising once again, CBC News reports Formula 1 wants $6 million of funding to cover the losses of having no fans on site, something Quebec Premier Francois Legault says is a big ask.
“We are told that because there will be no spectators, there should be compensation from the government, when we have already given a lot,” Legault said.
With the Canadian GP currently under contract until 2029, it appears the investment made into the future of the event is one of the reasons so much effort is going into trying to keep it on the calendar this season.
“The concern that we have, if we do not have a grand prix in 2021, what happens with our 2022-2029 agreement? Because let’s not forget that the grand prix is the event that has the most real economic benefit because it is money that comes from abroad that is spent in Quebec. But we always make sure that the aid given is less than the benefit.”
Reports claim Quebec is willing to host the race without fans as long as certain conditions are met by F1, specifically those already undertaken by the sport at many venues in terms of using charter flights, staying in dedicated hotels, remaining separate from the wider public — including but using private transport — and regular testing.
“There is a way to hold it in terms of public health with well-thought-out protocols,” Quebec Public Health Director Dr. Horacio Arruda is quoted as saying by Radio-Canada. “As for the importation of the virus by people who come from outside without quarantines, these are discussions that are taking place between Quebec and Canada.”
While Quebec appears willing to host the race under those conditions, F1 is still trying to convince Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to allow the sport to arrive in Canada without needing to quarantine as a result, as it has been able to do in venues such as Abu Dhabi last year.
“I know that talks are underway right now, but at every stage, our priority is the health of Canadians,” Trudeau said. “And that is the basis on which we will make the decisions.”