Kurt Verlin
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F1 Season Could Start on July 5

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Max Verstappen at the 2019 Austrian Grand Prix
Max Verstappen, winner of the 2019 Austrian Grand Prix, racing at the Red Bull Ring
Photo: Honda

Formula 1 CEO Chase Carey has officially announced that the 2020 Formula One season will tentatively start on July 5 with the Austrian Grand Prix.

Carey said that the organization was “increasingly confident” in the progress of its plans, even though the French Grand Prix — originally scheduled to take place at Le Castellet in late June — was canceled just this morning.

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Should the 2020 F1 season indeed start in Austria on July 5, and should only the races from the original 2020 calendar take place henceforth, it would leave us with only a 12-race season, down from what should have been a record 22. However, Carey expects that F1 will complete between 15 and 18 races with a revised calendar.

“We’re targeting a start to racing in Europe through July, August and beginning of September, with the first race taking place in Austria on 3-5 July weekend,” he said. “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.”

Carey added that a finalized calendar would be published as soon as possible. He also said that F1 expects the early races to be held without fans — only teams and supporting personnel would be at the track. As local governments and F1 evaluate the ongoing COVID-19 situation, it is hoped fans will be able to eventually join the events as the season progresses.

“We still have to work out many issues like the procedure for the teams and our other partners to enter and operate in each country,” Carey explained.

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Martin Brundle, former F1 driver and respected F1 commentator, said he believed Austria’s Red Bull Ring was the ideal place for the 2020 F1 season start.

“I think starting in Austria makes sense,” he said on The F1 Show, a new Sky Sports program. “A venue where maybe we could control the train set because Red Bull own that circuit. A smaller country, a smaller government to deal with, because the hoops to jump through, the logistics we need to sort out before we can get Formula 1 up and running again, are pretty significant and challenging.”

Brundle added that the Red Bull Ring was likely to stage two consecutive races before the F1 circus moved on to Silverstone in the UK, where the same could happen. In other words, if we do end the season having seen up to 18 races, it will probably be because some circuits will have hosted more than a single Grand Prix.