F1 confirms plan to start season with Austrian Grand Prix at start of July with final race before end of the year

Formula One chief executive Chase Carey has revealed the 2020 season will begin with the Austrian Grand Prix on 3-5 July as long as conditions surrounding the coronavirus crisis allow the sport to do so.

The European races will kick off the delayed 2020 campaign that plans to feature between 15-18 Grands Prix and run over the course of five months, with the final event in Abu Dhabi taking place before the end of the year in December

Once the European races have been staged, F1 will move to Eurasia, Asia and the Americas, before ending the season with a Middle East double-header in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.

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However, the French Grand Prix will not take place after an announcement on Monday confirmed that Le Castellet will not stage a race in 2020 due to the coronavirus restrictions currently in place in France.

It means that for the first time in F1 history, Austria will stage the curtain-raiser at the Red Bull Ring, which Christian Horner – team principal of the team that owns the circuit – confirmed to The Independent this month can be prepared in under three weeks.

Confirming the plan, Carey said in a statement: “Although this morning it was announced that the French Grand Prix, due to take place in late June, will not be going ahead, we are now increasingly confident with the progress of our plans to begin our season this summer.

“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. 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.

“We will publish our finalised calendar as soon as we possibly can.”

In what proved a busy morning for the sport, Silverstone announced that the British Grand Prix will take place without fans in attendance, providing the event can take place at all, with those who had already purchased tickets able to transfer them to 2021 or apply for a refund,

Carey admitted that the first few races will all take place without fans, but F1 hopes to open their gates before the end of the rearranged season.

“We expect the early races to be without fans but hope fans will be part of our events as we move further into the schedule,” Carey added. “We still have to work out many issues like the procedures for the teams and our other partners to enter and operate in each country.

“The health and safety of all involved will continue to be priority one and we will only go forward if we are confident we have reliable procedures to address both risks and possible issues.”

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