Puzzling to move China’s GP on F1 calendar


8:00 a.m.
                There has been a line through the Grand Prix of China for the time being. If it is up to F1 organizers, the emphasis in this sense will be on ‘provisional’. The royal class wants to give the race in Shanghai a different place on the calendar. But that is not yet easy.

With almost all signals on red, the Formula 1 actually had no choice anymore. Or rather: the promoter of the Chinese Grand Prix no longer had a choice. Formula 1 refused to take the plunge itself and put the responsibility entirely with the promoter and with local authorities. Partly because of this, the decision took a long time. But with international air traffic suspended and now more than a thousand fatalities, there was no escaping it anymore: there had to be and would be a line through the date of 19 April.

That has happened in the meantime, but the stocking is not over yet. After all, Formula 1 does not want to reduce the 2020 calendar to 21 races. China should ideally have a different place on the calendar. Also because the commercial interests behind a race in this Asian superpower are huge. Or as Liberty leader Chase Carey puts it: “We value our Chinese partners. We have also experienced good growth in China and we would like to continue that line.”

F1 calendar 2020 after the summer break:

August 30 GP of Belgium
September 6 GP of Italy
September 13 Free weekend
September 20 GP of Singapore
September 27 GP of Russia
October 4 Free weekend
October 11 GP of Japan
October 18 Free weekend
October 25th GP of America
November 1 GP of Mexico
November 8 Free weekend
November 15th GP of Brazil
November 22 Free weekend
November 29, Abu Dhabi GP
December 6 Free weekend
December 13 Free weekend
The key question then is ‘how’? Because if you look at the above diagram, you will immediately see that there are few options. In any case, the summer break is out of the question, so that only the ‘free weekends’ after the break qualify. But almost every option has countless hooks and eyes. Especially if you keep in mind that the so-called ‘triple header’ from 2018 (France, Austria and Great Britain) certainly did not get their hands together. Teams complained rock and bone and made it clear that they would not want to do this again in the near future.

Compressing the Grand Prix of China in one of the aforementioned weekends would again mean such a dreaded triple header. And then also one with purely overseas races. It is clear that teams are not waiting for that. And although Liberty Media is not completely guided by all sorts of wishes from teams, it is going a bit too far to push such a proposal against it. See the struggle of Carey and his men: “We have not yet looked at all the possibilities, but think that it will certainly be a challenge.”

This politically correct answer conceals that there is already ample thought behind the scenes about a possible solution. For example, a substitution with the Russian Grand Prix seemed to be an option for some time, but the promoter of the race in Sochi indicated that he was not open to that. Such a change would give the promoter six months less time to sell all the tickets. “The date for the Russian Grand Prix was set in October last year and will not change again,” said a spokesperson at the time in fairly clear terms. GPUpdate.net know.

But if switching to another GP is unlikely and a triple header is out of the question, what is possible? An option that is still on the table is to slightly extend the upcoming Formula 1 season. In that case, the Abu Dhabi seasonal valve would be moved backwards, creating a gap for the Chinese Grand Prix in November. The disadvantage is that the F1 season then (somewhat charged) lasts until Christmas. And the question is whether that will get all hands together. Nevertheless, this seems to be the only remaining option to allow the race at the Shanghai International Circuit to continue, provided that the corona virus is of course completely under control. Safety is always number one at all times. Will undoubtedly be prosecuted.

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