- Title: The 2020 Formula One season to begin, finally
- Date: 29th June 2020
- Summary: ZANDVOORT, NETHERLANDS (FILE - MARCH 4, 2020) (REUTERS) ***WARNING:CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** RED BULL DRIVER MAX VERSTAPPEN PREPARING TO TEST ZANDVOORT CIRCUIT VARIOUS OF VERSTAPPEN PUTTING ON BALACLAVA AND HELMET VERSTAPPEN SETTING OFF IN CAR VERSTAPPEN ON TRACK VARIOUS OF VERSTAPPEN IN CAR VARIOUS OF VERSTAPPEN ON TRACK VARIOUS OF VERSTAPPEN WITH CAR IN THE GARAGE, TALKING TO ENGINEERS WOKING, NEAR LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (FILE - FEBRUARY 13, 2020) (REUTERS) NEW MCLAREN FORMULA ONE CAR, THE MCL35, WITH DRIVERS LANDO NORRIS (BLUE TOP) AND CARLOS SAINZ JR (WHITE TOP) SAINZ JR TAKING PHOTO OF CAR CAR PARIS, FRANCE (FILE - FEBRUARY 12, 2020) (REUTERS) RENAULT DRIVERS, ESTEBAN OCON AND DANIEL RICCIARDO (BEARDED), ARRIVING FOR NEWS CONFERENCE OCON (LEFT) AND RICCIARDO (RIGHT) POSING FOR THE CAMERAS MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA (FILE - MARCH 12, 2019) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF FORMULA ONE DRIVER DANIEL RICCIARDO SITTING ON TYRE OF OPEN WHEEL CAR AND POSING FOR PHOTOS
- Embargoed: 13th July 2020 09:04
- Keywords: Austria COVID-19 Chalres Leclerc Coronavirus Ferrari Formula One Lewis Hamilton Max Verstappen Mercedes Red Bull Ring Sebastian Vettel Silverstone
- Location: VARIOUS
- City: VARIOUS
- Country: Various
- Topics: Motor Racing,Sport
- Reuters ID: LVA009CKF9J5R
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Formula One is set for a series of firsts when the rescheduled season begins this week with Austria's Red Bull Ring hosting the first of two consecutive races at the track without spectators
The season, which originally envisaged a record 22 races, has been stalled since the March 15 Australian opener was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first race of the year will now be in Austria on Sunday (July 5) with a second, designated the Grand Prix of Steiermark (Styria) after the region in which the Red Bull-owned circuit at Spielberg is located, a week later.
It will be the first time a circuit has hosted two championship races in the same season, the first time a season has started in Austria and also the first time a race has been held behind closed doors.
The 10 teams will then travel east to race on a third successive weekend at Budapest's Hungaroring on July 19 before returning home, all under carefully controlled conditions.
Silverstone, which hosted the first F1 world championship race in 1950, is scheduled for the British Grand Prix on Aug. 2 followed by the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix on Aug. 9.
Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya will then host the Spanish Grand Prix on Aug. 16 to complete the triple-header before another break and then two more back-to-back races at Spa in Belgium and Italy's Monza on Aug. 30 and Sept. 6.
Formula Two and Formula Three races will also be held over the same weekends.
Formula One is hoping to host between 15 and 18 races with the season ending in Abu Dhabi in December after also racing in Bahrain.
Four races have been cancelled so far - Australia, Monaco, the Netherlands and France - while China, Azerbaijan, Canada and Vietnam are awaiting rescheduling.
Races in Singapore, Russia, Japan, the United States, Mexico and Brazil remain uncertain.
The enforced 3-and-a-half month break has also seen some other changes as some drivers confirmed they would be moving to a new team in 2021 before the 2020 season had even began.
Spaniard Carlos Sainz will make a dream move to Ferrari next year, with Australian Daniel Ricciardo replacing him at McLaren.
Ferrari said 25-year-old Sainz, who replaces four times world champion Sebastian Vettel alongside young Monegasque Charles Leclerc at the sport's most glamorous team, had signed for 2021 and 2022.
Vettel's next move remains uncertain.
Elsewhere, Williams also announced at the end of May that i was considering selling its once-dominant but now struggling Formula One team as part of a strategic review.
Williams Grand Prix Holdings (WGPH) published results for 2019 showing Formula One revenue slid to 95.4 million pounds ($117.6 million) in 2019, down from 130.7 million pounds the previous year.
The former champions, who last won a championship in 1997 with Canadian Jacques Villeneuve, have not won a race since 2012.
They finished last in 2019 with just one point scored by now-departed Polish driver Robert Kubica, and were also 10th overall in 2018.
The team's finances have suffered as a result of poor track performance, with the COVID-19 pandemic bringing more pain and set to further impact commercial rights income in 2020.
Williams also announced on Friday that it had served notice to terminate its relationship with title partner ROKiT and major sponsor ROK Drinks.
The team, who have furloughed employees, said they remained funded and would be ready to resume racing when conditions allowed. Formula One is planning to start the season in Austria in July.
Formula One is due to implement a $145 million budget cap from next year.
Williams have won nine constructors' titles and seven drivers' championships and are one of the most successful teams, historically, in the sport.
(Production: Tim Hart)
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