Formula One boss Chase Carey is hopeful the 2020 season can still feature up to 18 races despite being forced to call off another grand prix.
On Monday the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, due to take place on June 7, became the eighth event to be pulled from the schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The season is yet to begin after the Australian and Bahrain Grands Prix did not go ahead this month. Races in Vietnam, China, Holland, Spain and Monaco have also been postponed or cancelled.
"We are committed to bringing our fans a 2020 Championship Season. We expect to start at some point this summer, with a revised calendar of 15-18 races"https://t.co/JLLXSfNQDd
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 23, 2020
However, in a statement on the F1 website, chief executive Carey wrote: “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.”
World champion Lewis Hamilton is yet to race this season (David Davies/PA)[/caption]
With the exception of Australia and Monaco, organisers are hoping to find new dates for all races when possible.
In an attempt to create room, the planned summer break was brought forward to the spring, but Carey admits racing could go on into December.
He added: “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.”
We have today taken the decision to postpone the Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2020.
— Baku City Circuit (@BakuCityCircuit) March 23, 2020
Organisers of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, which was due to take place on the streets of the capital Baku, felt they had little alternative but to postpone.
A statement read: “Baku City Circuit has today taken the decision to postpone the Formula One Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2020 due to take place on June 7.
“This comes as a direct result of the ongoing global Covid-19 pandemic and has been based entirely on the expert guidance provided to us by the relevant authorities.
“BCC’s primary concern throughout has been the health and wellbeing of the Azerbaijani people as well as all visiting F1 fans, staff and championship participants.”
The earliest the F1 campaign can now start is with the Canadian Grand Prix at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 14 – but that is also uncertain.
“BCC shares its fans’ disappointment at not being able to experience the pinnacle of motorsport race through the streets of Baku this June,” continued the BCC statement.
“To that end, we will continue to work closely with Formula One, the FIA (motorsport’s governing body) and the government of the Azerbaijan Republic to monitor the situation with a view to announcing a new race date later in the 2020 season.”
Silverstone chiefs have said they would provide fans with full refunds if the British Grand Prix, pencilled in for July 19, does not go ahead.