GP2 Asia, Imola, Start, 2011

Imola isn’t going to replace Shanghai, but a new 2020 calendar tweak is under consideration

2020 Chinese Grand Prix

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The postponement of the Chinese Grand Prix has left an awkward gap in the opening months of the 2020 F1 calendar.

The 71st world championship season will begin at the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne in three weeks’ time. From there the circus heads straight to Bahrain the following weekend.

They take a weekend off, then reassemble in Hanoi for the Vietnam Grand Prix. At least, that’s the plan, one the organisers of the country’s first-ever race are desperate to stick to in spite of the threat from the Covid-19 Coronavirus.

The virus has already forced the Chinese Grand Prix promoters to abandon their plans to hold their race on April 19th. As things stand, the Vietnam Grand Prix will be followed by a four-week gap before the championship reconvenes at Zandvoort for the Dutch Grand Prix.

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Shanghai International Circuit, 2019
F1 wants to make Shanghai race happen
Last week it emerged that the president of Imola, which hosted F1 from 1980 to 2006, had approached the Automobile Club of Italy about offering to take Shanghai’s place. The circuit previously stepped in nine years ago when GP2 Asia was unable to race in Bahrain, and held the final round of the championship.

No doubt there is great affection for the former home of the ‘San Marino’ Grand Prix (the principality is an hour’s drive away). But the prospect of F1 racing there in April is not realistic.

The line coming from Formula 1 on the matter is utterly clear. The championship’s priority is finding a place on the calendar for the postponed Chinese round. F1 sees the country as a vital market – some in the sport have even said it should hold more than one race.

Efforts are still underway to slot the race in at the end of the season. Whether that is possible will firstly come down to how successfully the virus is contained.

If F1 finds a suitable slot, the 22nd round of the championship will be reinstated. And here lies the key to understanding why Imola or any other circuit is unlikely to replace Shanghai in April: If it did, the calendar would rise to 22 races again, and the Chinese round would become a 23rd race.

F1 will have a hard enough time getting teams to accept a late rejig of the schedule to accommodate Shanghai. Asking them to increase the already-record schedule to add a 23rd race, at a venue which would not be able to afford the kind of race fee China can pay, is unlikely to get a favourable response.

The sport is continuing to explore all possible avenues to restore China to the calendar. RaceFans learned from a source last week that one option could involve rescheduling one of the other races at the end of the year.

This option was also suggested by AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost last weekend. “Abu Dhabi has to be the last race as far as I know, in the contract,” he said. “Maybe to put Abu Dhabi one week later, there’s always a possibility.”

RaceFans understands this idea has been raised by Formula 1. Moving Yas Marina’s race back one week to December 4th-6th would allow F1 to visit China the weekend before, and avoid a logistically challenging triple-header of Brazil, China and Abu Dhabi. However there is a snag: The FIA’s end-of-season event is also scheduled for the first weekend in December.

Clearly, finding a space for China’s race is going to be hard. Putting another race on in April will only make matters more difficult, so it isn’t going to happen.

But the sport is determined to do whatever it can to get China back on the calendar. “It won’t be easy,” said Racing Point team principal Otmar Szafnauer last week.

“We want to grow the sport in China, in order to do that it’s not the best to miss a race,” he added. “Let’s see what happens if the races will be shoehorned in somewhere our team will go, we will race there.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...

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33 comments on “Imola isn’t going to replace Shanghai, but a new 2020 calendar tweak is under consideration”

  1. With the way things are currently going in Italy, i wouldn’t be surprised if they cancel Monza.

    1. That’s in September. Too early to think about It. And italian
      gp could move to Imola.

    2. Whats happening? It wont be as bad as whats happening in China due to outbreak of coronavirus.

      1. @Chaitanya What’s happening is … Outbreak of coronavirus. From 3 to 150 cases in a day.

        1. I didnt know Italy was also in same situation as China. Most of the news here in India only cover cases from China, Nepal and in general South Asian countries.

          1. Worldwide: 79637
            China: 77345 (+5365 suspected)
            Outside mainland China: 2217 in 34 countries
            Deaths: 2624 (China: 2592; outside China: 32)

            Europe: 201
            – France: 12
            – Germany: 16
            – Finland: 1
            – Italy: 155
            – UK: 13
            – Sweden: 1
            – Spain: 2
            – Belgium: 1

    3. Noooo. I’ve already got tickets booked for my first ever live GP there. Shoo, go away bad virus.

  2. The sport always tries to fix the impossible before finally realising too late what we all knew to start with. By doing so they close the door to real alternatives (Imola etc)

    Bit like USA 2005 they spent days saying we have to try to fix this the way the rules say, despite the fact that was never possible. By the time they realised that all other good alternatives windows had passed.

  3. The Chinese GP needs to be cancelled & not rescheduled. The teams already feel as though there are to many races. This story was happily put on the backburner during testing. This week we have more testing & DtS2 comes out Friday. Let’s move on from this.

  4. Just forget about China allthogether. I’d love to see F1 not going to Shanghai ever again, the venue has become relatively boring and failing to attract more attention and the environmental issues are just appalling. European races tend to attract three times more viewers on the race day and Liberty spits on them, and that’s a huge shame and hypocrisy in my opinion.

    1. José Lopes da Silva
      23rd February 2020, 15:25

      Who pays for all this?

    2. The Shanghai circuit has actually produced some pretty good races over the years. Far better than the bore-fests at tracks like Melbourne, Paul Ricard, Barcelona, Monaco, Russia, Singapore, Mexico, and Abu Dhabi.

      1. I would happily swap the aforementioned tracks (bar Monaco and Mexico for the sake of atmosphere) for something else, but China falls into the same category for me. I just don’t like the overall atmosphere as well as the environmental excesses of the whole region. It’ll be fun when the most significant figures of the sport alongside activits will be pushing on green technologies and at the same time they’ll be singing odes on “important markets” of China, India and Southeast Asia. Where you literally can’t see the sun through all the smog and sessions have to be cancelled because helicopters wouldn’t be able to transport people to hospital.

        1. @pironitheprovocateur I get it. It is grey looking, unenthusiastically barren (despite the attendance in absolute numbers isn’t that bad at all) and the track is designed by Herman Tilke from the ground up (which is always a red flag in my book). It’s an overall ‘bad look’, yes.

          But, the racing there has been pretty good and entertaining and in the end, that ultimately trumps the other aspects imho.

  5. Covid-20, Godzilla and Cthulhu will all probably emerge by the end of 2020.

    Let’s maybe stop hysteria about virus, which will kill 300times less people this year than a flu, and resume normal life?

    No?! Then let’s barricade in our houses and kill each coughing person on sight.

    1. Yeah more people have died of TB in China these first 2 months than corona, but imagine what the death total will be if as many people get infected by flu, get infected by corona. Currenty death rate is 2.0% which is roughly 20 times higher than flu and its infection rate is double of flu :/

    2. @dallein your behaviour is now getting to the point where you are actively damaging your own arguments.

      By going to such an extreme, and in that process ended up spreading misleading information – I have repeatedly pointed out that the figures you claim are a direct quote are in fact not what you claim they are, not to mention being exaggerated to boot – you are far guiltier of a hysterical overreaction than those you rail against.

      1. anon is like the inquisition, there’s always a brave nameless soul that risks nothing to expose nothing in order to achieve nothing with the utmost intentions always great intentions.
        Covid 19 is a serious tragedy, dallein is wrong. people are wrong all the time.

        1. @peartree you really are becoming quite a nasty and tedious troll, to the point where now you seem to have the rather sick minded attitude of trying to exploit a tragic situation for the sole purpose of trying to arrogantly belittle people solely to inflate your ego.

          You have bullied and abused other posters here then, when called out on it, tried to pretend that your malicious moves were “for comedy” – what pathetic excuse are you going to try and wheel out this time to justify your behaviour?

        2. @peartree Yeah, because usernames are totally identities. Anon is no more anonymous than you are.

          And he always uses proper arguments and debate properly. Quite unlike yourself.

          1. @losd

            Anon is no more anonymous than you are. And he always uses proper arguments and debate properly

            You are no anon either so there goes your theory.
            Anon I’ve been saying this the whole time. I know who you are, don’t bother logging out. I know when I wrote that “for comedy” comment. I’m the one who is bulled by your intolerance. want to have a valid opinion? Don’t just leave empty characters, grow a character.

          2. @peartree no, you do not “know whom I am” as I am not the person who you are falsely trying to portray me as – and given you seem to think it is “comedic” to call people pathetic, stupid and intolerant, I do not want to register here to have an anonymous troll scream abuse at me.

  6. How could they realistically expect to move the Abu Dhabi GP (or any other race for that matter) at this short notice given that people have booked flights and accommodations for the end-of-November weekend, so who would compensate for them since the airline companies wouldn’t? Just let it go already; this has become nothing but desperate. Yes, I’ve pointed out this before, but will once again: Not having the Chinese GP for this ‘one’ season wouldn’t be the end of the world, so why even bother messing around with things?

    1. I forgot to add: ”December 1st-3rd” – 4th-6th actually as 1st, 2nd, and 3rd will be Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday respectively.

  7. Bring back Hockenheim!

    1. How about: reverse grid (2020 driver standings), non-points, formula ford or similar, sort of like the old race of champions – Liberty foots the bill.

  8. There’s no realistic way of returning to Shanghai this year whether it be logistical or weather so it just needs to be cancelled. With a calendar this tight that’s the only option.

    If Liberty absolutely “has” to have another Asian race for 2020, and given that China is not an option, then why not run it in Sepang? Even that, at this late stage would probably not be logistically possible.

    1. Well, there are other venues that look to be threatened with the virus. Maybe take a look again in two weeks and see what develops. There are plenty of over the top evaluations re coronavirus but the fact is, the cat is out of the bag. There is not enough data to determine a CFR yet, so this is all conjecture. Having said that, there are some potentially bad numbers out there and the very recent Italian infection is not a good sign, as neither are the Korean not Japanese numbers. Really, until there is consensus from epidemiological scientists as to the CFR and the spread rate we know nothing. Currently the death rate looks to be about 2% of infections; if this is so and the virus keeps spreading, then more than the Chinese GP will be cancelled.

  9. Run a race in April somewhere like Imola (maybe not given the virus outbreak in around Milan), Jerez, either of the German circuits, maybe even Qatar, and close it to the public,

    Surely it’s not that much harder to organise than a test session.

    This is better than a huge gap in the calendar so early in the year. Good chance Vietnam is cancelled as well.

  10. I never really thought Imola would come off as there are too many hurdles in the way at short notice. It would have been good though. It was still probably a better solution than re-arranging other races to accommodate China.

    No though however, with a quite serious outbreak of Coronavirus in northern Italy, I expect the idea is stone dead.

  11. With the rate of spread of Coronavirus, I would not be surprised if it disrupts multiple Grands Prix this year.

    Imagine if someone within the F1 world were to contract it and spread it to others: there is a foreseeable risk that may be controlled by the whole F1 community being grounded and isolated.

    1. If all the drivers are quaranteed together we could see the first ever ‘reserve drivers only’ GP.
      With Kubica at the wheel of an Alfa!!
      Assuming pit crews are at full capacity…

Comments are closed.