The Canadian Grand Prix, scheduled for June 14, has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic – further delaying the start of an already heavily-disrupted Formula One campaign. There is still hope it can be rescheduled by October.
The 2020-21 F1 season continues to be disrupted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic worldwide, with the Canada GP being the latest postponement on the 22-race calendar.
Overnight, it was announced this was the latest major sports event to be postponed as a consequence of the COVID-19 crisis – scheduled to take place between June 12-14.
Montreal’s Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve is a semi-permanent circuit and organisers had to make a decision by this weekend, due to the time required to prepare for the race. It attracts one of the biggest crowds in Canada each year, with last year’s three-day event having an announced attendance of 307,000.
In a statement, race organisers would have been “honoured” to be the season’s opening race, but the postponement was “not a decision that was taken lightly or easily,” as keeping non-essential businesses and the Canadian border closed gave them no choice.
Canadian GP president and CEO Francois Dumontier said: “The deadline we were given to make a decision coincided with the day we were supposed to start preparing the track.
Before incurring costs, preparing the track, we had to be certain that we were going to have the race. The majority of businesses who work with us are non-essential, which would’ve put in peril our chances to hold the race on June 14th.”
However, there are still hopes the race can be rescheduled at a later date – reports suggest October at the latest given the Montreal climate.
F1 CEO Chase Carey said: “We always look forward to travelling to the incredible city of Montreal and while we will all have to wait a bit longer, we will put on a great show when we arrive later this year.”
Last month, Carey revealed there’s still hope to put on 15-18 races if the championship can begin at some stage this summer. But with each passing week, that looks less likely.
The next race as planned is the French Grand Prix, on June 28 at the Paul Ricard circuit.
The week afterwards is the Austrian GP (July 5), before Silverstone in Britain on July 19. A decision on whether those will go ahead is expected by the end of this month.
F1 shutdown period extended to five weeks
The FIA have confirmed the three-week shutdown period for F1 operations has been extended to five weeks.
Usually arriving in August and referred as the summer break, the shutdown was brought forward because of this pandemic – freeing up space for races over the summer.
While some teams have already begun their shutdowns, a meeting between F1 officials on Monday unanimously agreed to increase the current period.
An FIA statement said: “Following unanimous approval by the F1 Strategy Group, Commission and all teams, the World Motor Sport Council has ratified by e-vote the decision to extend the shutdown period from 21 to 35 days, to be taken in March, April and/or May, for all competitors and Power Unit manufacturers.”
Several UK-based teams, including Williams and Racing Point, have placed some staff on furlough to reduce costs, as has Formula 1 themselves.