FURTHER speculation has been voiced by F1 insiders that the delayed season could end up with a spectacular double-header in Bahrain over consecutive weekends before concluding in neighbouring Abu Dhabi.
No formal decision has been made but the GDN understands that the dates are known to be available at Bahrain International Circuit and the proposed schedule for races outside Europe will be announced by Formula One Group owners, Liberty Media Corporation, shortly.
Crucial to the debate will be concerns over the Covid-19 epidemic but with November or the start of December weekends likely, the health situation may have dramatically changed.
Mercedes Team principal Toto Wolff has hinted at two more races in this year’s calendar in the Middle East. The new revised F1 calendar so far only confirmed eight races for the 2020 season.
All confirmed races are going to take place in Europe. The first on July 5 will be one of two to be held in Austria, with another double-date later in the UK.
Wolff, in conversation with Motorsport-total.com, this week raised the possibility of more races in 2020. He said, “It’s good that we have a solid base with the European races already on the calendar. I believe and hope that we might have two more races at the end of the year in the Middle East and that will be announced soon.”
It is difficult to say where the two races will be held. Whether there will be a race each in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi or whether there will be two races held at either one circuit, only time will tell, the website added.
Back in March gptoday.net first suggested that the possibility of two races in Bahrain was being explored as it ‘would allow teams to enter a type of quarantine in the country’.
F1 insiders told the GDN that was exactly the thinking behind the plan, as Formula One managing director Ross Brawn earlier outlined a desire for the sport to resume in isolated environments.
“It’s a real consideration because one of the logistical challenges is getting everyone tested and cleared to enter the paddock and enter the racing environment,” he said.
“And I think once we do that, it’s very attractive to keep everyone in that environment, within that kind of biosphere that we want to create for another race.
“It’s also pretty challenging to find the right sort of races early on where we can control the environment well enough.”
Bahrain fits that ‘biosphere’ bill very well, a senior motorsport insider told the GDN. “There is a big desire, of course there is, and it would be amazing if we could, and it’s available,” he said.
“And, we’ll be able to look how successful the races staged in Europe have been and what lessons can be learned, see whether it works for the teams, it works for the drivers, it works for the fans and TV audiences.
“As for back-to-back races, the Austria experience will be crucial. If it’s weekend to weekend, if you set up for one event as long as your calendar is free you can host another event the following weekend.
“From a regional point of view, as the season always ends in Abu Dhabi, coming to the region and racing in Bahrain, proceeding that race, could make sense, replacing the postponed race in March.”
In these ‘exceptional circumstances’ the source was confident Bahrain would get one race, perhaps two. “You’re on an island,” he said. “You’ve got the teams on an island in hotels, in a paddock that is contained on the south of the island in the desert. It’s almost like the perfect environment. From driver, to hotel, to paddock, to race – keep them there in the days’ in-between races and build up to the next one.
“It’s contained and one of the safest F1 biospheres you could possibly create.
“You can see how one race day could easily lead to two. I think it’s exciting and just what the island needs. We’re talking now at the start of June, the initial F1 calendar has been released and they’re about to announce the rest of the global calendar at the end of this month.
“Also, the world could be in a whole new different place when it comes to Covid-19 in November and December.”