Baku, Singapore, Japan canceled but could Europe save F1’s neck?

2019 Japanese Grand Prix, Sunday - Wolfgang Wilhelm

If you were concerned over the COVID-19 virus and potential problems arising from large population groups, then races through bustling city streets such as Baku and Singapore might be on your list to avoid in 2020 and that’s exactly what has happened. Bt what also happened is the series announced the cancellation of a historic fan favorite, the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.

“As a result of the ongoing challenges presented by COVID-19, we and our promoters in Azerbaijan, Singapore and Japan have taken the decision to cancel their races for the 2020 season.

“These decisions have been taken due to the different challenges our promoters face in those countries. In Singapore and Azerbaijan the long lead times required to construct street circuits made hosting the events during a period of uncertainty impossible and in Japan, ongoing travel restrictions also led to the decision not to proceed with the race.

“At the same time we have made significant progress with existing and new promoters on the revised calendar and have been particularly encouraged by the interest that has been shown by new venues in hosting a Formula 1 race during the 2020 season.

“We appreciate this is still a time of uncertainty and complexity around the world and will continue to ensure we proceed with the 2020 season in a cautious and flexible way. We have detailed and robust safety plans in place to ensure we begin our season in the safest possible way.”

While eight races are required to be considered a full championship, and F1 has secured those eight in Europe, F1 boss Ross Brawn says there is a contingency to get to 15 or so races and this is important because that’s the number that commits their broadcast revenue obligations and that is their largest source of revenue.

“Things are moving fast, but we still have time,” he said. “We have lots of different options and we’re very confident we’re going to have a great second half of the season.

“There is a contingency to have an extended European season with another one or two races if needed. I think Bahrain and Abu Dhabi will be the backstop of the season from what we can see at the moment. That gives us 10. We’ll find at least five or six good races in the middle.”

The irony in this for me is that for so long F1 has ho-hummed the European races in favor of far-flung track in Malaysia, China, Singapore, Turkey, India, Vietnam and even though Liberty Media said they would focus on the traditional European circuits and the US, they’ve not had a big track record yet.

However, it is these very circuits in Europe that could be saving F1’s neck adding 15 or more races with Mugello, Imola and others being mentioned as possible locations. Once F1 was leaving Europe for more flavorful locations and now it seems when F1 needs her most, Europe is proving to be a real gem. Perhaps F1 will remember this before thumbing their nose at the historic European races in the future and I am looking at you Germany.

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