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F1 likely to add European races as more cancellations loom

The current schedule features eight races, all in Europe, but with the sport hoping for a season of between 15 and 18 rounds.

FILE: Ross Brawn, Managing Director (Sporting) of the Formula One Group, talks in a press conference to announce the rules for the 2021 Formula One season during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of USA at Circuit of The Americas on 31 October 2019 in Austin, Texas. Picture: AFP

LONDON - Formula One looks set to add more European races to the calendar with grands prix in Asia and the Americas likely to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The current schedule features eight races, all in Europe, but with the sport hoping for a season of between 15 and 18 rounds.

Australia, Monaco, the Netherlands and France have been cancelled and sources indicated Azerbaijan, Singapore and Japan would be next on the list. The races in Brazil, Mexico and Texas are also uncertain.

“We have lots of different options and we’re very confident we’re going to have a great second half of the season,” motorsport managing director Ross Brawn told the http://www.formula1.com website.

“There is a contingency to have an extended European season with another one or two races if needed.

“I think Bahrain and Abu Dhabi will be the backstop of the season from what we can see at the moment. That gives us 10. We’ll find at least five or six good races in the middle.”

The season, halted since the 15 March Australian opener was cancelled, is due to start without spectators in Austria on 5 and 12 July.

There will also be two races at Britain’s Silverstone circuit in August, with other rounds in Hungary, Spain, Belgium and Italy.

A second race in Italy has been mooted for the Ferrari-owned Mugello circuit or Imola, once home of the San Marino Grand Prix, while Germany’s Hockenheim and Portugal’s Algarve circuit in Portimao are other possibilities.

Sochi in Russia is also open to hosting two races.

Singapore and Baku are street circuits with a long lead time, meaning a decision has to be imminent, while Japan looks unlikely given that its MotoGP round, after the F1 grand prix at Suzuka, has already been cancelled.

The season is due to end in Abu Dhabi in December after Bahrain, which could host two races.

“One of the nice attractions of Bahrain is it has many configurations, so we could go to Bahrain and race on two different tracks there,” Brawn said.