F1 circuits could withdraw from rescheduled 2020 calendar due to fallout from coronavirus pandemic

FIA president and former Ferrari team principal Jean Todt fears circuits could choose not to stage races while the deaths brought on by the outbreak of Covid-19 remains at the forefront of the public’s mind

Coronavirus: How has sport been affected?

FIA president Jean Todt fears the rescheduled Formula One season could be further hampered by circuits who do not want to host races while the coronavirus pandemic remains at the forefront of the public’s minds.

F1 bosses are hopeful of putting together a 2020 calendar of up to 18 races once the coronavirus lockdown restrictions are lifted, with owners Liberty Media currently in talks about what the new season will look like once motorsport can resume. Currently, the sport has postponed or cancelled the first nine races of the season, meaning that under the original schedule the British Grand Prix is the first on what’s left on the calendar.

Todt hopes that if the season can begin inside the next four months, there will still be enough time left this year to fit up to 18 races with three each month in what will be a heavily-bloated schedule.

But once this can be arranged, Todt fears that promoters will not want to host events that are considered by the former Ferrari boss as “a celebration” when tragic circumstances and the repercussions that the coronavirus pandemic will bring are still being felt across the world.

"Once we know we can start, I think we could really see two-to-three Grands Prix a month," Todt told Autosport.

"If we start in July/August and go to December, we have six months, from five to six months, multiplied by three and it gives you one option.

"But don't forget we may face situations where one organiser can host the event safely but eventually feels: 'I don't want (to). I don't feel in the mood to host the event'.

"So ultimately this kind of situation may occur.

"An event is a celebration, and it's what I mentioned earlier: we may be in a situation where everything is put together to do it but there is no real feeling to celebrate."

The opening race of the season in Australia was called off with just hours to go before the start of opening practice, with a member of the McLaren team contracting coronavirus that resulted in the team withdrawing from the Melbourne curtain-raiser before it was fully abandoned.

F1 confirmed that the Australian Grand Prix will not be rescheduled along with the Monaco Grand Prix due to the difficulty in preparing public roads for the event, while both the Spanish and Chinese rounds in Barcelona and Shanghai could also be at risk of full cancellation.

Todt also expressed a belief that fans may not want to come to races for the foreseeable future given the risk that attending mass-gathering events poses, following the outbreak of Covid-19. Recently the Cheltenham Festival has come under-fire for hosting the event last month as the coronavirus outbreak started to take a grip on Europe, with around 60,000 people attending the Gloucestershire racecourse on four consecutive days.

Silverstone, for example, attracts more than double that number on race day, with 141,000 spectators watching Lewis Hamilton win the British Grand Prix last year as part of a record 351,000 weekend attendance.

"When all that will be over, do you still want to go to a race? Do you still want to go to a sports game? Do you still want to go to the theatre? Do you still want to go to the restaurant, to the movies?” asked Todt.

"So you will have to learn how to start again, because at the moment we are all confined depending on where, who and how (we are)."

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