If and when the 2020 Formula 1 season gets underway, it is going to be far from normal in every aspect.
It is unlikely that any racing will get underway until the end of June, and realistically, it is more likely that the wheels of the 2020 F1 grid will not turn until the end of the summer.
Whilst Formula 1 travels globally, a large percentage of the races are held in Europe, the current epicentre of the COVID-19 epidemic and there is no telling how long it will take for the current strict isolation measures to be lowered.
Safety is of course paramount, and there are very few people who disagree with the methods being taken, but nonetheless, these are hard times for every individual across the globe.
So, if F1 is able to get going at some stage this year, there is no way they can run like they would during a normal season.
For one, although lockdowns may be lifted at some point in the next few months, it is unlikely the virus will be eradicated by the end of the year, and so measures will need to be taken in order to try and contain and minimise the spread.
That means, F1 will not simply be able to go back to how it was before. The series bosses will need to put measures in place in order to comply, like they attempted in Australia, which could result in less media work for drivers, limited working hours for team members and so on.
At this stage, nobody knows what is going to happen, when it will happen and how it will work, but if F1 can operate in 2020, then it could be the year to help F1 properly re-set and prepare themselves for the future.
If racing doesn’t get underway until the end of the summer, then there won’t really be much of a season left anyway. Chase Carey has said that he hopes to have a 15-18 race season this year, but that looks ambitious at best, especially given the current climate.
But even if there are only a handful of races, there are still things to be gained by running them. Not only will it help the teams by allowing them to get race fees and prize money, in addition to sponsorship fees, it also allows F1 bosses to experiment with the race platform.
Ross Brawn has previously alluded to it, but if there is a condensed season, it is is the perfect time to try out a two day F1 weekend, or to try out things such as reverse grid races.
People will instantly hit back and ask what F1 are playing at if they were to try these things out, but F1 has been trying to mix things up for a while but have never had the opportunity to.
If the season is almost a write off anyway, and regulations have already been pushed back a year, then why not scrap this year as a serious season and conduct a number of ‘test’ races to see how the series could be better run in following years.
F1 has always been criticised of being archaic and behind the times, but this would be a hugely pro-active approach, and would provide the required data that would allow the bosses to decide which is the best route to take in order to expand the series and its appeal.
If racing were to go straight back to as was, then it would be a massive opportunity missed. How often does Formula 1 get the opportunity to take stock and evaluate new ideas? When was the last time they had an opportunity and tested new ideas away from a full season?
No, I can’t remember either.
When changes have been made during a season in the past, Formula 1 has been face with huge outcry from fans, especially when those ideas didn’t work, and that was mainly because the formats had not previously been tested.
Taking whatever is left of 2020 as a ‘testing’ season will eradicate all of that.
It will be experimental, and yes, some ideas may not work out, but it would provide a clear picture of what does and doesn’t work, and what is and isn’t achievable.
It may not be the season fans want, but it isn’t going to be anyway, so Formula 1 might as well just go ahead and experiment, for it could be for the greater good in the long term.