The Monaco Grand Prix organiser has explained why it became “impossible” to reschedule the race, causing Formula 1’s blue-riband event to be cancelled outright back in March rather than postponed.
F1 teams should be preparing for the championship’s most famous race this month, but instead it will not be held for the first time since 1954.
Monaco was the first to emphatically cancel its grand prix rather than hold out hope for a new date, and at the time its organiser the Automobile Club de Monaco said “under no circumstances” will it be possible to reschedule either the GP or the Historic event due to run two weeks prior.
The early impact of the virus outbreak, especially increased travel restrictions that morphed into full lockdowns in many countries, made it clear that the preparations for the street race had to be put on hold.
ACM president Michel Boeri has now explained how the promoter became “stuck” and why it committed so early, in mid-March, to abandoning the events that were not due to be held until late May.
He said rescheduling was not “realistic” because it would require more than 1500 volunteers and companies involved in the preparation of the circuit to move their availability by several months.
Boeri also explained that while the Historic GP and F1 race can block out the area in May, that is not possible later in the year.
So rescheduling was never an option because it would have been impractical logistically, from both a preparation and disruption perspective.
“It was impossible,” he said. “We were stuck.
“In addition, we are not the only ones in the Principality of Monaco.
“There are so many events between August and October, we cannot overlap, especially when we know that it takes us 45 days to build the circuit and 25 to deconstruct.”
Several of Monaco’s European grand prix counterparts – Holland, Spain, Austria, Britain, Hungary, Belgium and Italy – hold out hope of hosting F1 this season.
Austria, Britain and Hungary could do so on their originally scheduled dates, but without fans, but the Dutch and Spanish GPs will need to be rescheduled.
Belgium’s race currently falls within a nationwide events ban but could be moved to avoid it, while Italy was the original worst-hit country in Europe.
But as those races all take place on purpose-built circuits, and some have the support – financially or logistically – of their national governments, waiting to reschedule was much more realistic.
Boeri said the ACM retained the confidence of FIA president Jean Todt, and that others were now having to face “the same difficulties we resolved two months ago”.
Monaco had started construction, such is the long-term nature of a street track, and sold more than 80% of tickets.
“Everything was in place,” said Boeri. “Unfortunately, it became impossible to fight against an epidemic that was gaining ground, and with the FIA and Formula 1 announcing that the events of the month of May could not be held, we had no other choice.
“Such a decision was not taken lightly and after careful consideration as to the gravity of this crisis worldwide, it was with great sadness that the ACM took the decision to cancel.”