Silverstone England

F1 primed for July 5 start as Silverstone dates confirmed; sprint race format mooted

Formula One will return to racing in July at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, after the country’s government approved the races on July 5 and 12.

Following last week’s news that the Dutch Grand Prix will now not take place until 2021, Austria will host the opening two races before the Hungarian Grand Prix on July 19. And the calendar has received the further boost of back-to-back races at Silverstone, after the British government indicated it will waive the 14-day quarantine rules for team personnel entering the country.

It means that the season will kick off with an eight-race European leg of the championship, with Spain, Belgium and Italy to follow the British double-header in August.

The opening races of the revised 2020 calendar could also be an opportunity to experiment a sprint race qualifying system, after the topic was discussed during an online meeting held by the FIA and team principals on Friday.

Saturday’s 3o minute ‘sprint race’ would decide the grid order for Sunday’s feature race, with the grid order for the sprint race decided by championship standings, so Lewis Hamilton would start from the back, and so on. The idea by Liberty Media is a further attempt to liven up proceedings and further level the playing field and encourage exciting racing and overtaking, although unanimity among the 10 teams is required for the plan to be voted through and Mercedes are thought to be opposed, for obvious reasons.

“In the past weeks we have been working tirelessly with all our partners, the FIA and the teams to create a revised opening 2020 calendar allowing us to restart racing in the safest possible way,” read a statement from Chase Carey, Chairman and CEO of Formula 1. “We are pleased to be able to set out our opening eight race calendar today and look forward to publishing our full calendar in the coming weeks.

“I want to thank every promoter and partner for their support and ongoing commitment to Formula 1. While we currently expect the season to commence without fans at our races we hope that over the coming months the situation will allow us to welcome them back once it is safe to do, but we know the return of Formula 1 will be a welcome boost to sports fans around the world.”

Revised European schedule:

July 5 – Austria

July 12 – Austria

July 19 – Hungary

August 2 – Britain

August 9 – Britain

August 16 -Spain

August 30 – Belgium

September 6 – Italy

Motorsport Technology