Formula 1 could still hold 19 races in 2020 if its season can get underway in July, with events behind closed doors, triple headers and condensed weekends all under consideration.
The opening nine rounds of the 22-race calendar have either been postponed or cancelled, with late June’s French Grand Prix currently the first scheduled race.
The coronavirus pandemic has prompted most countries in key Formula 1 territories to impose strict lockdowns, restricting freedom of movement.
Austria – whose event is scheduled for July 5 – is set to be the first western European nation to begin easing restrictions, potentially as early as next week.
“Eight races is the minimum we can have a world championship,” Formula 1’s Managing Director of Motorsports Ross Brawn told Sky Sports F1.
“We could achieve eight races by starting in October. So if you wanted a drop dead point [for a championship] it would be October.
“But then there is always the possibility we could run into next year. That’s being explored. Can we stray into January to finish the season? There are all sorts of complications, as you can imagine, with that.
“If we were able to start at the beginning of July we could do a 19-race season. Three races on, one weekend off, three races on, one weekend off.
“We have looked at all the logistics, and we think we can hold an 18-19 race season if we can get started at the beginning of July. The choice is between those two numbers.”
Brawn added that “we may have some two-day race weekends” and that China would be a prime candidate for a condensed event, assuming the championship can travel to the country.
It has also been indicated that beginning the season with only essential personnel, and no spectators, is a likely direction.
“Our view is probably a European start will be favourable and that could even be a closed event,” he said.
“We could have a very enclosed environment, where teams come in on charters, we channel them into the circuit, we make sure everyone is tested, cleared and that there is no risk to anyone.
“We have a race with no spectators. That’s not great, but it’s better than no racing at all. We have to remember there are millions of people who follow the sport sat at home.
“A lot of them are isolating and to be able to keep the sport alive and put on a sport and entertain people would be a huge bonus in this crisis we have. But we can’t put anyone at risk.”