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Formula 1

Which F1 grands prix will allow fans in the rest of 2020?

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
4 min read

All of Formula 1’s remaining grands prix except the season finale in Abu Dhabi are set to be open to a limited number of fans, subject to coronavirus pandemic developments.

The most recent round of the 2020 season, the Tuscan Grand Prix, was the first to allow spectators to attend. Nearly 3000 per day were permitted at Mugello.

F1 had been cautiously optimistic that a small number of spectators would return to races before the end of the year, but it is not down to the championship to decide.

Spectator access depends on local and national guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic.

F1 consults with the circuits on capacity and social-distancing measures and settles on a satisfactory number. It cannot override local authority regulations, so for example the F1/FIA mandate that drivers and personnel wear face masks is not something that fans can be forced to adhere to if face masks are not mandatory in public in that country.

Russian Grand Prix Sochi 2020

Races have been held as ‘closed events’ so far this year but that is gradually opening up and a significant increase in spectator access will begin from this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix.

Sochi organiser Rosgonki previously targeted “the widest audience possible” and a 50% capacity of around 30,000 – and now claims all tickets made available have been sold.

It also intends to hold meet-and-greet driver sessions but these will be done virtually, and the paddock/fan areas will remain separated.

If the coronavirus situation remains stable in F1’s other host countries, the Russian GP will likely be the start of several races with a strong spectator attendance.

The Nurburgring has announced plans to sell up to 20,000 tickets to the Eifel GP on October 11. These will go on sale on Tuesday (September 22) this week.

Germany’s football league, the Bundesliga, has agreed a 20% stadium capacity limit for the new season but last year’s title winning team Bayern Munich has already been hit by a local restriction banning fans from attending, emphasising how fluid the situation remains.

Algarve World Superbike 2020

Algarve’s first F1 race for the return of the Portuguese Grand Prix on October 25 has touted a large attendance, but talk of more than 60,000 spectators is believed to reference the full weekend rather than a per-day number.

Paulo Pinheiro, managing director of the venue (pictured above hosting the World Superbike Championship last month), told The Race: “We got permission from the health authorities that we’re going to have a maximum allowed of 50% of the racetrack capacity, so it should be in the region of 45,000 spectators.

“This number can decrease or increase depending on the pandemic situation in the weeks before the race but we are working on this number and I think that will be the number to be in place for the race.”

Tickets for Imola’s return to the F1 calendar on November 1 will go on sale on Tuesday. A limit of 13,147 spectators will be enforced on each day, as the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix will have a two-day format.

The Turkish GP on November 15 is one of the most interesting test cases for spectator attendance.

Turkish Grand Prix 2011 Istanbul

Organisers initially announced incredibly low-cost general attendance tickets, with a view to a crowd of 100,000.

But this is considered far too high for F1 to deem safe, and the real number is likely to be much lower.

The season-ending trio of Middle-Eastern races in Bahrain (two events) and Abu Dhabi are expected to have contrasting attitudes to allowing fans to attend.

Bahrain was the first race to commit to a spectator-free grand prix right back in March, before the season was suspended, but it is understood to be joining its European counterparts in being open to a safe, limited number of fans.

However, Abu Dhabi is enforcing stricter rules around the COVID-19 pandemic and is believed to be preparing for a fan-free grand prix.

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