Like all sports, Formula One has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. The 2020 season which was due to start back in March, has yet to begin.
It’s an unprecedented situation for the sport, which hasn’t faced an issue like this in its 70-year history.
What’s worse, the sport’s globe-trotting nature makes it unique in its acute vulnerability to the current global lockdown. A questionable prize money model also means a number of teams are at risk of going out of business.
But all hope is not lost just yet. Several countries are starting to gently ease their lockdown measures, and we might still get a 2020 championship contest between Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen and the rest …
Best case plan – 19 races
As things stand, this year’s opening nine rounds have been delayed. Officially, eight have been postponed, with only the Monaco Grand Prix officially cancelled.
It means the French Grand Prix is currently set to be the opening race of the season on June 28th, but with President Emmanuel Macron recently extending the country’s lockdown, it seems highly likely the Paul Ricard event will be postponed too.
The sport’s bosses remain optimistic, however. Formula One chief Ross Brawn recently said that if they can start the season in July, they could yet hold a 19-race 2020 season.
To fit that in, the sport would hold races on three successive weekends, followed by a one-week break.
Grand Prixs would also likely be held over two days instead of three, and with some behind closed doors. The traditional August summer break has also been cancelled to open up more space in the calendar.
And with Austria beginning to relax some lockdown measures, it means the opening race could be the Austrian Grand Prix on July 5.
From there, we could then have three races per month for five or six months, bringing us up to a near-normal 18 or 19 race season.
The season could be extended well into December, with a potential knock-on delay of only a month or two for the 2021 season.
Worst case plan – 0 races
Of course, the worst case scenario is that Formula One is unable to host a 2020 season at all.
As mentioned, the sport’s unique travelling nature means it’s at the mercy of the lockdown measures across a host of nations.
Thousands of people are needed for a Grand Prix to go ahead, and all would need to be safe to travel. It’s entirely plausible the sport writes off 2020 and goes again in 2021.
The third plan – 8 races
But with several countries starting to ease their lockdown measures, including Italy – the home of the Italian Grand Prix, Ferrari, Alpha Tauri and Pirelli – another likely scenario is a truncated season.
According to the Formula One rulebook, only eight races are required for a season to qualify for World Championship status.
By that measure, the sport has plenty of time between now and the end of 2020 to put an eight-race season together.
Where and when those races take place remains to be seen, but there’s plenty of hope that we will still get a 2020 F1 season.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication.