The revamped Zandvoort circuit and new Hanoi track would have had no difficulty being ready for their grand prix debuts had the 2020 Formula 1 season run as scheduled, says FIA race director Michael Masi.
On the original version of the 2020 F1 calendar, the new street-based track in Hanoi would’ve hosted the inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix on April 5 and the first Dutch GP in 35 years would’ve taken place on a reconfigured version of Zandvoort on May 3.
Zandvoort had been under particular pressure given the tight timescale the project was working to, environmental objections to some elements of the work, and question marks over whether a track many believed had been lost to F1 for good could really be brought up to modern standards.
But Masi said he was fully satisfied that Zandvoort would’ve made it in time and to standard, saying “that wasn’t really an issue”.
Red Bull had carried out a demonstration run at the track with Max Verstappen at the start of March, though final work was still ongoing at that point.
“They were well and truly ready,” Masi said of Zandvoort in a Sky Sports F1 interview.
“There was no doubt about that. They’d put in a huge amount of work in a relatively short period of time.”
In the case of Hanoi, Masi said he had visited the track ahead of pre-season testing and been satisfied it was ready.
“I stopped into Vietnam earlier this year when I was coming up to Europe in late January, early February, and again that wasn’t going to be an issue at all,” he said.
“That circuit was well and truly on the way.
“So the new venues were well and truly prepared and ready for Formula 1.”
Whatever form the adjusted 2020 F1 calendar takes, Zandvoort will not now return to the championship until 2021.
But Vietnam is still in contention for a place on the schedule and is likely to fit in with Bahrain and Abu Dhabi in the group of races that concludes the season across November and December.
Masi added that he had remained in regular contact with the Hanoi and Zandvoort organisers throughout the time F1 has been paused.
“It was mainly phone calls and emails. There wasn’t really any need for video chats. But we had phone calls and emails with both the Vietnamese and Zandvoort,” he said.
“That continued all the way through and even continues today for all the little finer bits and pieces that they need to do along the way. It’s not something that’s stopped per se.”
F1 is set to announce early in the coming week that it is clear to begin its 2020 season with two races at the Red Bull Ring in July – one of which could trial a reversed-grid sprint race qualifying format.
Full details of the initial European leg of the calendar, including a double-header at Silverstone, are expected in the next few days.