Paris: It was supposed to be a record 22-race world championship but with seven Grands Prix already either postponed or cancelled, Formula One in 2020 has become a shorter, tightly-packed and economically challenging sprint for the title.
The season-opener in Australia and F1’s iconic Riviera showpiece in Monaco have been axed.
Races in Bahrain, Vietnam, China, Netherlands and Spain have also been shelved but with organisers still hoping to shoehorn them into a breathless finale once the threat of the coronavirus had subsided.
A season which should have started in Melbourne on March 14 will now not start until Azerbaijan on June 7 — at the earliest.
“It’s super complicated to redo a calendar because you don’t know when everything will be operational,” Frederic Vasseur, the team principal of the Alfa Romeo F1 team, said.
“You need to have a global vision. England is not too affected at the moment but it could be when Italy is less affected,” he added in reference to the two countries which play host to most of the teams in the world championship.
There are still 15 races left on the schedule before the concluding race at Abu Dhabi on November 29.
Last weekend, Ross Brawn, the sporting director of F1, said he was optimistic of a “17-18 race” championship.
However, that was when only Australia, Bahrain, Vietnam and China had been dropped.
On Thursday, the Dutch Grand Prix, slated to make its return to the calendar for the first time since 1985 on May 3, and the Spanish event, set for May 10, were postponed.
The Monaco GP, an annual showstopper since 1955 and set for May 24 this year, was cancelled completely.