Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 29 May 2020

Formula One Hungarian Grand Prix set to take place behind closed doors due to coronavirus

Organisers concede that the race, set to be moved back from its current date of August 2, can only happen without fans being present

Supporters watch world champion Lewis Hamilton pass by during the 2019 Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring. The 2020 race is set to take place behind closed doors. Reuters
Supporters watch world champion Lewis Hamilton pass by during the 2019 Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring. The 2020 race is set to take place behind closed doors. Reuters

Organisers of Formula One's Hungarian Grand Prix said on Friday that the race scheduled for August can only go ahead without spectators.

The race at the Hungaroring is due to take place on August 2 but the Hungarian government announces on Thursday that events with more than 500 participants cannot be held until August 15.

"It is now evident that any F1 race in Hungary can now only be held behind closed doors," organisers said.

F1 plans to start its stalled season without spectators at Austria's rural Red Bull Ring from July 3-5, followed by the British Grand Prix at Silverstone under similar conditions.

It has yet to publish a revised calendar, however, and Hungary could now be pushed back to later in August given that well over 1,000 people will be present even without any paying public.

As a closed operation for broadcasters it might also be able to work around the 500 people limit.

F1's August break, with Hungary marking the halfway point in the regular calendar, has been cancelled to allow for rescheduling.

Teams are currently on an extended factory shutdown that could run into June, with five of the seven British-based outfits furloughing staff to save money.

Hungarian GP organisers said the government announcement "clearly had a direct impact" on the race.

"The Hungaroring team has been regularly liaising with Formula One ... to explore all possible ways to stage the [race] in front of fans. However, in light of this decision this is unfortunately no longer possible," they said.

"We do believe that staging the event behind closed doors, which our fans can still watch on television, is preferable to not having a race at all.

"As such, we are continuing our working with Formula One to try and find a way to make this possible."

The sport will still have to overcome considerable logistical obstacles and satisfy governments on health and safety before races can go ahead.

Updated: May 1, 2020 03:29 PM

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