More than a month has passed since the 2020 Formula One season was due to start, and we are no closer to the opening race.
The current situation means that the season has been thrown up in the air without any certainty that it can continue at all.
It has been frustrating for fans who haven’t seen any racing since the previous season ended in November, however the exceptional circumstances mean that any outrage is minimal.
So far, multiple races have been cancelled but plans have been drawn up which the governing bodies will hope they can stick by.
What are the plans then for the upcoming season?
Cancelled and Future Formula 1 Races
Due to the pandemic, the opening ten races of the 2020 Formula One season have either been cancelled or postponed.
The Australian Grand Prix, usually held in Melbourne, has been cancelled altogether and will not take place this season.
One of the most iconic races in the calendar, the Monaco Grand Prix, has also succumbed to the pandemic and we will have to wait another year for the highs and lows of Monte Carlo.
It has also been announced that the French Grand Prix will also not take place this year but will return in 2021.
Races in Bahrain, Vietnam, China, Holland, Spain, Azerbaijan and Canada are currently postponed and it’s unknown which will be cancelled or go ahead when racing resumes.
Formula One CEO Chase Carey announced that they are confident the season will resume on July 5 in Austria.
The optimistic hope is that races in Europe will go ahead in July and August, before travelling to Asia in September and October, the Americas in October and November before the season ends in the Gulf in December.
Under these plans, the mid-season break will be scrapped in order to fit in the required number of races.
With future cancellations and postponements seemingly inevitable, the estimated number of races going ahead will be between 15 and 18.
Will the 2021 Season Begin as Normal?
If all goes to plan and no more races are postponed or cancelled, the 2021 season should begin with the return of the Australian Grand Prix in March of that year.
However, if races do begin this year, it poses another issue for the higher ups to consider.
If no races are possible this year, the season can simply be cancelled altogether for a 2021 restart.
If a few races go ahead and future races are cancelled, they will have to decide if the season will end after only a few races or delay the 2021 season.
So far, there are no plans to delay but we all know how quickly circumstances can change.
However, there have been some confirmed changes to the next year’s season.
2021 was scheduled to see new sporting and technical regulations which will see racing closer between teams and therefore more thrilling driving.
The FIA have decided to delay these until 2022, which will essentially ease a financial burden on teams who will have to invest plenty into ensuring they meet new regulations.
New financial regulations, such as a new budget cap, will still be enforced in 2021.
When Will F1 Fans Return to the Stands?
If the 2020 Formula One season returns as planned in July, fans will not be able to attend and the races will take place ‘behind closed doors’.
Silverstone chief Stuart Pringle, who is in charge of the race track where the British Grand Prix is held, has confirmed that any race there this year will be closed to fans.
The plan is for Silverstone to go ahead in July but it is highly likely this will be one of the races to be postponed or even cancelled.
However, Chase Carey would like to see the possibility of fans returning as the season progresses.
What can F1 Fans Watch Instead?
Drivers who now have plenty of free time are competing in an E-Sports Virtual Grand Prix series in place of every postponed race.
Athletes from other sports such as Ben Stokes and Ian Poulter have also competed and it has been pretty hectic so far.
Season one covers the 2018 season whereas the new season covers the 2019 season which included the previously absent Ferrari and Mercedes teams.