Formula One is hoping to have a finalised 2020 calendar in place by the end of the month after announcing plans to return to action in July, but chief executive Chase Carey said he would not set any hard deadlines with safety still the priority.
F1 on Tuesday published an eight-race European calendar which will see the delayed season get under way with a double-header in Austria on July 5 and 12 before a race in Hungary, two at Silverstone in August and further events in Spain, Belgium and Italy – all to be staged behind closed doors.
But owners Liberty are hoping to stage between 15 and 18 grands prix this year and Carey said he remained confident in that goal.
“We feel good about it,” he said on the F1 website. “We’re in uncharted waters. We certainly continue to have a lack of visibility beyond a fairly short timeframe…
“We’re not going to give a deadline right now. With the fluidity of the situation, a deadline would create pressures which may not be right and realistic for the situation so we’re thinking of goals.
“Our goal would be before the end of June to if not complete the rest of the calendar, is to have a handle on it. We know what we would like to try and do.”
The new calendar was accompanied by rigorous safety guidelines which Carey said will be akin to “living in a bubble” for the limited number of personnel at each race.
The guidelines cover all aspects of racing, travel and accommodation, going into detail on everything from meal times to toilet facilities and downtime between events.
“Clearly we recognise our sport is one which at times, we can’t have two metres between every individual on a team,” Carey said.
“When a car pulls into a pit and has to change four tyres, there won’t be two metres between every individual. We need to make sure we have procedures to manage all those risks as soon as possible.”
The season had been due to begin in Melbourne in mid-March, but the Australian Grand Prix was called off at the 11th hour as the virus began to take hold around the world, with McLaren having already withdrawn from the event after one of their mechanics tested positive.
But should an individual test positive at an upcoming event, the race would still go ahead.
“An individual having been found with a positive infection will not lead to a cancellation of a race,” says Carey.
“We encourage teams to have procedures in place so if an individual has to be put in quarantine, we have the ability to quarantine them at a hotel and to replace that individual.”
Last week, the FIA granted approval to budget caps to be introduced from next season – measures that have been in the pipeline for some time but only finalised amid the current crIsis.
“What the COVID (pandemic) created was a sense of urgency,” Carey said. “Crisis in many ways require a sense of urgency.
“The issues that arose with this timeframe gave us the impetus, it gave us the momentum to tackle things which would have probably been tackled in the ordinary course over a longer timeframe.”
But, given the publicity given to proposals to introduce a reverse grid at some races, Carey promised that there would be “no gimmicks” as further reforms are considered.
“Making changes in this short timeframe requires unanimity of support. We’re changing almost real time inside the season, but we’ll continue to look at ideas,” Carey said.
“We want to make sure they’re not gimmicks. It’s a great sport with great history, great heroes, great stars, incredibly talented drivers and other individuals so we want to respect everything to a degree but we want to make sure that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t look at ways to make some changes.”