Carey: F1 expects to start season “some point this summer”

Formula 1 CEO Chase Carey has said that he expects the season to start “some point this summer”, but recognises no guarantees can be made at this time.

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix was the latest race to be postponed today, with no signs of any improvement in the current social climate due to the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning the earliest the F1 season can begin is June 14 at the Canadian Grand Prix.

However, with the Tokyo Olympics that is due to take place in the summer likely to be postponed, and the fact that Canada has said they will withdraw their athletes if it does, it is unlikely the Canadian Grand Prix will go ahead in its current slot either.

With so much disruption to the F1 calendar already, and further changes likely to come, Carey has confirmed that the series is ready to get racing as soon as is practically possible and that whilst he cannot give any guarantees on exact dates, he anticipates it starting at “some point this summer”, with the season consisting of “15-18 races”.

A statement issued by Carey on Monday said: “Over the past week, Formula 1, the ten F1 teams and the FIA have come together and taken rapid, decisive action as part of our initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While at present no-one can be certain of exactly when the situation will improve, it will improve and when it does, we will be ready to go racing again.

“We are all committed to bringing our fans a 2020 Championship Season.

“We recognise there is significant potential for additional postponements in currently scheduled events, nonetheless we and our partners fully expect the season to start at some point this summer, with a revised calendar of between 15-18 races.”

In an attempt to free up space in the calendar, the summer break shutdown for teams has been brought forward to March and April, meaning there are four weeks now available to fit in postponed races, and in the latest statement, Carey has said that they are looking to extend the season beyond November 29.

“As previously announced we will utilise the summer break being brought forward to March/April to race during the normal summer break period, and anticipate the season end date will extend beyond our original end date of 27-29th November, with the actual sequence and schedule dates for races differing significantly from our original 2020 calendar.” commented Carey.

“It is not possible to provide a more specific calendar now due to the fluidity of the current situation but we expect to gain clearer insights to the situation in each of our host countries, as well as the issues related to travel to these countries, in the coming month.

“With the benefit of the FIA’s announcement and agreement in principle to freeze technical regulations throughout 2021, no summer break and factory shut downs being moved forward to March / April the sport now intends to race through the period normally set aside for the summer break and fulfil lost events from the first part of this year.

“This flexibility offers an opportunity to evolve the sport, experiment and try new things.

“That may include initiatives such as expanding our esports platform, developing more innovative content like Netflix’s Drive to Survive, and other creative ways to drive ongoing value for the sport’s sponsor partners, broadcast partners, race promoters, teams and fans – the ecosystem of our fantastic sport.

“Between Formula 1, the teams and the FIA, working with our key stakeholders, we are planning and fully committed to returning to the track at the earliest opportunity to commence the 2020 season.

“We will continue to take advice from health officials and experts, as our first priority continues to be the safety and health of our fans, the communities we visit and those within the Formula 1 family.”