Formula One season targets Austria start in July as Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is moved to December
Also confirmed that French GP is cancelled and British race at Silverstone will go ahead without spectators
The 2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is now set to take place in December as Formula One bosses announced plans to start the season in Austria in July.
It was also confirmed that the French Grand Prix had been cancelled and the British race at Silverstone would go ahead without spectators.
The French GP, previously scheduled for June 28, was the 10th race of the season to be called off or postponed.
The traditional season-ending race in Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit will now take place in December, just after the Bahrain Grand Prix. It had been due to take place from November 27-29.
"We're targeting a start to racing in Europe through July, August and beginning of September, with the first race taking place in Austria on 3-5 July weekend," F1 chairman and chief executive Chase Carey said.
"September, October and November, would see us race in Eurasia, Asia and the Americas, finishing the season in the Gulf in December with Bahrain before the traditional finale in Abu Dhabi, having completed between 15-18 races."
Carey's statement followed quickfire announcements from the French organisers and a statement from the owners of the Silverstone track where the British Grand Prix is due to take place on July 19.
"Given the evolution of the situation linked to the spread of the Covid-19 virus, the French Grand Prix takes note of the decisions announced by the French state, making it impossible to maintain our event," the race's managing director Eric Boullier said.
It joins nine other races in the decimated 2020 championship to be either cancelled [Australia, Monaco] or postponed [Bahrain, China, Vietnam, Netherlands, Spain, Azerbaijan, Canada].
Organisers of the race at Le Castellet were forced to act after President Emmanuel Macron's announcement last week that the lockdown in France will be extended until May 11 and public gatherings banned until mid-July.
Ruling out holding the race behind closed doors, Boullier said: "Le Castellet are already turning towards the summer of 2021".
In a series of coordinated announcements, Silverstone's owners then announced that no spectators would be able to attend the British Grand Prix but that they hope it will go ahead as scheduled.
"I am extremely disappointed to tell you that we are unable to stage this year's British Grand Prix in front of the fans at Silverstone," the circuit's managing director Stuart Pringle said on Silverstone's Twitter account.
"We have left this difficult decision for as long as possible, but it is abundantly clear given the current conditions ... that a grand prix under normal conditions is just not going to be possible."
F1 CEO Carey said he expected "the early races to be without fans" but hoped that spectators would be allowed back "as we move further into the schedule.
"We still have to work out many issues like the procedures for the teams and our other partners to enter and operate in each country.
"The health and safety of all involved will continue to be priority one and we will only go forward if we are confident we have reliable procedures to address both risks and possible issues."
Updated: April 27, 2020 05:29 PM