When will Formula 1 return? Best-case versus worst-case scenario

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to put the Formula 1 season on hold, fans are pondering when racing will finally return and the 2020 campaign will begin.

When will Formula 1 return? Best-case versus worst-case scenario

The opening nine races of the season have all been called off, the most recent being the Canadian Grand Prix that was scheduled for June 14.

Teams are in constant discussions with the sport’s bosses about what the most likely course of action is as the world continues to grapple with the fluid nature of the pandemic.

So what are the best best-case and worst-case scenarios for the 2020 F1 season?

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes F1 W11

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes F1 W11

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

The best-case scenario: 19 races starting in the summer 

While the majority of European countries remain on lockdown and have scrapped all major sporting events in the coming months, there are still ambitions to get the F1 season underway in the summer. 

F1 CEO Chase Carey said at the end of last month a 15-18 race calendar remained possible, albeit heavily altered from the planned schedule, with an extension into 2021 under consideration.

But F1 managing director Ross Brawn revealed on Wednesday that as many as 19 races could still go ahead this year if the season can start in July.

“If we were able to start in the beginning of July, we could do a 19-race season – three races on, one weekend off, three races on, one weekend off,” Brawn explained on the Sky F1 Vodcast. "But we have looked at all the logistics. We think we can hold an 18 to 19-race season if we are able to get started in July.”

Read Also:

Only the Monaco Grand Prix has been formally cancelled for 2020, with a further eight races only being postponed, meaning the majority of them could be rescheduled as part of a series of triple-headers to reach 18 or 19 races. 

All options are being considered, including starting the season behind closed doors, running condensed race weekends and double-header events.

A 19-race calendar may seem ambitious, and it would undoubtedly put a big strain on the entire F1 paddock. But if it helps give the teams and promoters something close to a complete season, it may be worthwhile for the future of the sport.

Hugenholtz corner at Zandvoort

Hugenholtz corner at Zandvoort

Photo by: Ronald Vording

The worst-case scenario: No championship at all in 2020

With every race that gets called off, concerns are growing for many that there may be no championship at all in 2020.

The fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic means it is difficult to forecast just how long it will be until life returns to anything like normal. China has recently started to ease its lockdown restrictions amid falling death rates, but remains acutely aware of a possible second wave of infections. 

Even if the pandemic does not escalate further, there may still be concerns among nations and promoters of holding international events this year. Major events such as the Olympic Games, the UEFA Euro 2020 football championships and Wimbledon have already been postponed until 2021, making it not unimaginable that F1 could face a similar fate.

Read Also:

F1 must hold eight races across three continents for 2020 to count as a world championship. Brawn said the season could start as late as October and still reach the required number.

  “We could achieve eight races by starting in October," he said. "So if you wanted a drop-dead point, it would be October. But then there is always the possibility we could run into next year.”

So long as a home can be found for eight races by October, then we will get a championship this year.

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG W10, leads Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W10, and Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF90, at the start of the race

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG W10, leads Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W10, and Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF90, at the start of the race

Photo by: Colin McMaster / Motorsport Images

What is the most likely outcome?

Realistically, somewhere in-between the two extremes appears to be the most likely outcome for F1 in 2020 – but it still remains unclear just what form the championship will take.

A ‘soft’ return for F1 behind closed doors is likely initially, to at the very least help boost the championship’s race numbers and ensure there are no issues – for any problems would be extremely damaging on a number of levels.

Read Also:

The opening race would need to take place in Europe and be accessible for all 10 teams, with Brawn acknowledging the need for stringent tests and restrictions for those attending to ensure its running.

“Our view is that probably a European start will be favourable, and that could even be a closed event,” Brawn said. “We could have a very enclosed environment, where teams come in on charters, we channel them into the circuit, we make sure everyone is tested, cleared, there is no risk to anyone and we have a race with no spectators.

"That's not great, but it's better than no racing at all.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB15

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB15

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Where we currently stand

The French Grand Prix on June 28 currently stands as the first unchanged race on the calendar, followed by the Austrian Grand Prix one week later. The running of the British Grand Prix, scheduled for July 19, is set to be ruled on by the end of this month by Silverstone officials.

If the pandemic has abated enough by the time summer rolls around, then perhaps a race count proposed by Brawn may be within reach. It will be a difficult jigsaw for the sport’s stakeholders to piece together.

All dates will remain up in the air for now. But the hope is that sooner rather than later, F1 can get back up and running with races, and give us some semblance of normality within motorsport.

shares
comments
Todt warns F1 at risk of losing manufacturers

Previous article

Todt warns F1 at risk of losing manufacturers

Next article

No guarantee fans will want to attend F1 races - Todt

No guarantee fans will want to attend F1 races - Todt
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Author Luke Smith
What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors Prime

What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors

OPINION: Going up against the dominant force of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton was always going to demand the best from Red Bull and Max Verstappen. But after making a couple more errors during the Portuguese Grand Prix, the Dutch driver showed there's a small gap he still needs to close in the 2021 Formula 1 title fight.

The "subtle" Red Bull upgrades that kept it in the Portugal F1 mix Prime

The "subtle" Red Bull upgrades that kept it in the Portugal F1 mix

Red Bull's Portuguese Grand Prix fortunes were decidedly second best to Mercedes', but the result skews the potential that the team had at Portimao. With a new set of updates, the team looks good going forward into the rest of 2021's spicy F1 competition

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
Portuguese Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Portuguese Grand Prix driver ratings

The 2021 Portuguese GP will for several drivers go down as a weekend of missed opportunities amid imperfect track conditions that caused struggles with tyre warm-up. But the performances of a select few stood out from the crowd

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
The five key tests Hamilton passed to claim Portugal victory Prime

The five key tests Hamilton passed to claim Portugal victory

Just as he did in 2020, Lewis Hamilton had to come from behind to win the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix. Only this time there were two rivals he had to pass, among the several challenges he had to overcome, on his way to securing a 97th grand prix victory

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
The data that leaves both Red Bull, Mercedes uncertain of supremacy Prime

The data that leaves both Red Bull, Mercedes uncertain of supremacy

Lewis Hamilton topped the crucial FP2 session on Friday as F1 returned to Portugal, but his Mercedes team cannot be sure it has the edge on its Red Bull rivals. As cool temperatures and wind combine with the still-slippery surface to present drivers with quandaries over set-up and tyre warmup, there's still everything to play for come qualifying.

Formula 1
May 1, 2021
How in-form Norris is staking his claim as Britain's next F1 champion Prime

How in-form Norris is staking his claim as Britain's next F1 champion

As a highly-rated Mercedes junior, George Russell is naturally billed as Lewis Hamilton's heir apparent where Britain's next Formula 1 champion is concerned. But he may face competition for that accolade from Lando Norris, fresh from a confidence-boosting run to third at Imola whose rise is being accelerated by his McLaren team’s revival

Formula 1
Apr 29, 2021
The biggest headache F1 faces over its sprint race experiments Prime

The biggest headache F1 faces over its sprint race experiments

The news this week that F1 has green-lit 'sprint qualifying' races that will determine the grid for three grands prix in 2021 was met with a blend of excitement and scepticism. But before those in both camps can be vilified, F1 must first work out what its criteria is for success - and what will justify making them a more permanent fixture

Formula 1
Apr 28, 2021
The essential quality Tsunoda has to harness better Prime

The essential quality Tsunoda has to harness better

A rapid ascent through the junior categories meant Yuki Tsunoda's arrival in Formula 1 was always going to be much-hyped. It's not been smooth sailing for Red Bull's latest protege so far, but his confidence has never wavered - something he'll need to rely on to continue his progress into the driver he believes he can be.

Formula 1
Apr 27, 2021