Chinese GP 'fixed' while US GP prospects remain unclear

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The fate of Formula 1's flyaway races remains uncertain with only the Chinese Grand Prix "fixed" on the new 2020 schedule.

At least that is according to Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko as he revealed the latest speculation on what the calendar may look like, with an official announcement expected next week.

“I assume that all the races in Europe will take place, but there will certainly be changes overseas," he is quoted as telling Austrian media.

“Remarkably enough, the only race outside of Europe that is currently fixed is China.”

What is expected is the second half of the season will begin with a first race at Mugello on September 13, coinciding with what will be Ferrari's 1000th F1 Grand Prix.

200062 f1 charles leclerc mugello

After that, either the first Portuguese GP since 1996 or the Russian GP is rumoured to take place on September 27.

Canadian media also claims the race in Montreal has a new date of October 11, but then little is known after that with China reportedly offered a doubleheader and Bahrain likewise may hold two rounds before the finale in Abu Dhabi.

That will depend on the races in the Americas which usually take place in October/November, but right now the US, Mexico and Brazil are all seeing their coronavirus outbreaks worsen.

"We actually don't have a perfectly clear picture right now," Circuit of the Americas boss Bobby Epstein told Autoweek of their situation.

"I think that what they learned in Europe was that they could kind of wait until the last possible minute to make a decision, and we're not at the last possible minute yet for deciding about what it's going to be here.

"We don't have a firm 'it's going to be with fans,' 'it's going to be without,' or whether it even makes sense to come over to the U.S., but right now, we're planning on (F1) coming."

What may offer some hope for COTA is news this week that Indianapolis plans to allow 50 per cent of the normal fan capacity into the Speedway for the rescheduled 500 in August.

But the State of Indiana has seen a much lower number of Covid-19 cases than Texas, where Austin is located.

"It depends upon the number of fans," Epstein said of the timeline for a decision. "That's really the case because you could open up two weeks before for 10-20,000 people, and that's no problem at all.

"We do 30 concerts a year that have 10-13,000 people attending. For a 20,000-person event, no problem, short notice.

"What we don't want to do is gear up 100 days out—where we are now—for a lot of fans, build a lot of temporary structures for hospitality.

"There's a lot of trackside hospitality that's built, to stages and everything else, and not only to find out that there's another wave that comes along and you have to cancel it once you're heavy investment into it.

"But a couple of weeks before you could certainly do something with 15,000 fans."

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