Formula 1 may not race in 2020, say bosses

Formula 1 may not race in 2020, say bosses

Formula 1 chairman Chase Carey has admitted that the sport’s owners are preparing for “the remote possibility of no racing in 2020”.

He said they discussed with lenders how to handle the loss of income involved in not being able to run a season.

But he emphasised: “We are increasingly confident – although there are no guarantees – that we will have a 2020 championship season.”

F1 released figures showing income fell by 84% in the first quarter of 2019.

Owner Liberty Media said F1’s revenue in the first quarter of 2020 was $39m (£31.6m) compared to $246m (£199m) in the same period in 2019.

The records do not include any income received for the two races called off in that period in Australia and Bahrain, or any revenue from broadcasting rights.

Carey, who was speaking on a conference call with investors after the release of the first-quarter results, said the coronavirus crisis had had “a significant impact on F1 and we are adjusting in numerous ways”.

The figures reflect the difficulty created for F1 by the lack of racing, with all the sport’s main revenue streams facing disruption, and the importance of running a season this year.

Carey said the “goal” remained to start the season in Austria on the first weekend in July, and that it was “likely” this would be followed by a second race at the Red Bull Ring the on 11-12 July.

He said he believed it would be possible to have a championship of 15-18 races, and that the plan was for a series of European races through August and into September, before heading to Eurasia, Asia, the Americas and the Middle East, finishing on 13 December.

“We expect the European races to be without fans,” Carey said, adding that he was working through the methods by which teams could get to the races without adding to the risk of spreading coronavirus.

“We are making good headway on having races that can be secure and safe for everyone,” he said.

Carey added: “We hope to be able to allow fans to attend in the latter part of the year” and that he was “increasingly positive about the number of locations that will be able and want to host a race this year”.

A series of internal transactions at F1 owner the Liberty Media Group gave the sport an extra $1.4bn of liquidity to deal with the effects of the coronavirus crisis.

Carey said: “We expect the impact of the coronavirus on the wider world will continue, but we feel well positioned to return to the growth curve we were on a few months ago.”

The sport has made a series of moves in recent weeks to reduce costs for teams in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

These include delaying a major regulation change planned for 2021 until 2022, forcing teams to use their 2020 cars next season and a move to lower the budget cap that is planned to be introduced next year.

Formula 1 to create ‘isolated environment’

Formula 1 to create ‘isolated environment’

Formula 1 plans to create an isolated environment for competitors when it starts racing again in July.

Managing director Ross Brawn said they are working on a “kind of biosphere” in which teams and drivers would operate at races without spectators.

F1 aims to start the championship with consecutive races at the Red Bull Ring in Austria on 5 and 12 July.

“We’re working our way through all the requirements to make sure we operate in a safe environment,” Brawn said.

Brawn, who was talking on an official F1 podcast, said that re-starting a season that has been thrown into disarray by the coronavirus crisis was a “massive logistical challenge” but that “it is all going to be done properly, there will be no risk taken and it will all be done in the correct way”.

Brawn said: “Unfortunately it will be without fans, which is a great shame, but we still feel we can take the race out to all the fans who watch us on TV and other means.

“It’s important for us to try and get the season going. [There are] many reasons for wanting to start the season.

“One is obviously to excite the fans, who have all been frustrated by the delays. We’ve got a very exciting season in front of us. But it’s a very important livelihood for thousands of people, it’s another reason for trying to kick-start the season.”

He said that the need to ensure the sport created no added medical risk in running events was one of the issues pushing it towards its current plan to have two races at both Austria and Silverstone on consecutive weekends in July.

“It’s a real consideration because one of the logistical challenges is getting everyone tested and cleared to enter the paddock and enter the racing environment,” Brawn said.

“And I think once we do that, it’s very attractive to keep everyone in that environment, within that kind of biosphere that we want to create for another race.

“It’s also pretty challenging to find the right sort of races early on where we can control the environment well enough.

“Austria fits that bill very well. It’s got a local airport right next to the circuit, where people can charter planes into. It’s not too close to a metropolis, it has a great infrastructure around it.

“There will be no motorhomes, but there will be a full catering facility laid on that the circuit has. So we can basically contain everyone within that environment. Therefore once we’re there, it’s appealing to have another race the following week.”

It is unclear to where the season would head next in Europe after the races in Austria and Silverstone.

Spain and Hungary are possible next venues.

The organisers at the Hungaroring announced on Friday that it would not be possible to hold their race without fans.

BBC Sport understands they are confident after conversations with the Hungarian government that the race will be able to go ahead.

Hungary on Thursday banned events of more than 500 people until mid-August but current talks have focused on holding the event after that date.

Brawn added: “It’s been months now of working on the best reaction we can have to this terrible pandemic, the best reaction the sport and business can have.

“So my days and weeks and months have been full of negotiations with the team and [governing body] the FIA on the right way forward and of course the circumstances are changing so frequently and that’s pretty challenging. So it will be great to get back on track again.”