Austrian GP double to kick-start 2020 F1 season after government go ahead

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Formula 1 finally has a start date for the 2020 season after the Austrian government gave the go-ahead for two races this July.

That is according to a report by Die Motorprofis, who claim the authorities have completed their evaluation of F1's coronavirus plan, and are satisfied the proposed double-header at the Red Bull Ring can take place safely.

No official announcement has yet been made, though that may not be far away with Austrian health minister Rudi Anschober quoted this week as saying a final decision could come as early as today (Sunday).

Should that be verified, F1 would end the longest break between races in its 70-year history with an opening weekend of action on July 3-5, before following it up with another round a week later, marking the first time two F1 championship races were held at one venue.

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And just before Saturday's reports, FIA race director Michael Masi hailed the work being done to ensure the Austrian races go ahead.

“Thankfully, the team at the Red Bull Ring and Project Spielberg have been amazing to work with," said Masi on Sky Sport's Voodcast.

"They have had a desire from day one to make this happen. They have always had a can-do attitude at the best of times. They have been brilliant.

“Everything that we have needed, required – and working with the Austrian government to make this happen, without them and their support at both the FIA and the F1 Group, the target of Austria on the fifth of July is becoming more and more a reality by the hour.”

The basics of how F1 hopes to get started safely are already known with each team set to have their own "bubble" in the paddock, while a negative coronavirus test will be needed to gain entry approval and further tests will take place during the event.

Masi though offered some more insight.

"Key elements of what we are looking at is that each team and each entity will act as a family unit, so no different to each of us at home with our family members. We can work with them and socialise with them closely," he explained.

"Effectively, each team will be a much broader family unit, but the other parts that we’re aware of and the way this pandemic has evolved is that social distancing, teams interacting will be something that we won’t see.

“Even things down to drivers meetings having to happen over Zoom to try to minimise the risk for the entire paddock, and to try and keep us as resilient as possible in going through, and not having a repeat, or minimising a repeat, of what happened in Melbourne.”

Another boost for F1, according to the Die Motorprofis report, is Austria is also hoping to permit a small crowd of 500 into the Red Bull Ring to at least have some atmosphere, even if it's not the usual sea of orange that has flooded the grandstands in recent years.