The French Grand Prix has been cancelled, guaranteeing at least half of the Formula 1 races scheduled for 2020 have now been affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
Postponement or cancellation had already struck the opening nine rounds of the season, making Paul Ricard’s end-of-June French GP the first race according the original schedule.
However, as expected, a government ban on major events in France and travel restrictions that will run into the summer mean the race cannot take place as planned.
Spectator-free races at the Red Bull Ring and Silverstone at the start of July are considered F1’s best chances of getting the season going, subject to government approval and restrictions being reduced.
French GP organisers said they that following the national government’s measures they took “note of the impossibility to maintain the Formula 1 Grand Prix de France on June 28”.
It has been made clear that the event is cancelled rather than postponed.
Oh NOOOOOO!!!! https://t.co/2mc9xto0mx
— Romain Grosjean (@RGrosjean) April 27, 2020
“Given the evolution of the situation linked to the spread of the Covid-19 virus, the French Grand Prix takes note of the decisions announced by the French State making it impossible to maintain our event,” said French GP boss Eric Boullier.
“The eyes of the ‘GIP Grand Prix de France – Le Castellet’ are already turning towards the summer of 2021 in order to offer our spectators an even more original event in the heart of the southern region.”
It means 10 of the 22 planed 2020 F1 races have now been formally postponed or cancelled, an 11th – the British GP – has also definitively changed its plans.
Earlier on Monday Silverstone communicated that it would not be able to stage the race with spectators but it is still working with F1 to make a behind-closed-doors race feasible.
If the Austrian GP goes ahead in the same manner it will be 12 of the 22 races that have been affected, and the Belgian GP is in doubt on its planned August date because of the country’s own event restrictions amid the pandemic.
However, it is hoped the Austrian and British GPs will still be allowed to take place in some capacity and the Red Bull Ring and Silverstone could even add a second race each to help F1 build momentum early in the summer.
Races thereafter, including the theoretically impacted Belgian GP, will likely be subject to a new schedule, which is expected to be communicated shortly.