Formula 1 has confirmed that races in Azerbaijan, Singapore and Japan have been cancelled due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Held on public roads, time was always against race organisers in Azerbaijan and Singapore, while an existing travel ban between Japan and Europe had prompted fears that this event too could fall by the wayside, fears that have now been realised.
In a statement, Formula 1 said: "Following the announcement earlier this month confirming the opening eight races of the Formula 1 calendar, Formula 1 is working with all partners to finalise the remaining calendar for the season. We are confident in our plans to have between 15-18 races by the time our season concludes in Abu Dhabi in mid-December and expect to publish the finalised calendar before we start our season in Austria.
"As part of the discussions to finalise our calendar we have maintained close dialogues with our promoters and authorities and continue to monitor the specific and varying COVID-19 developments in each country. At all times we will ensure the safety of the Formula 1 community and the communities we visit is the number one priority.
"As a result of the ongoing challenges presented by COVID-19, we and our promoters in Azerbaijan, Singapore and Japan have taken the decision to cancel their races for the 2020 season. These decisions have been taken due to the different challenges our promoters face in those countries. In Singapore and Azerbaijan the long lead times required to construct street circuits made hosting the events during a period of uncertainty impossible and in Japan, ongoing travel restrictions also led to the decision not to proceed with the race."
Formula 1 managing director motorsports Ross Brawn commented earlier this week that various European circuits are ready to host F1 should additional races be required, with Brawn saying: “There are a number of good European tracks where we could add another one or two races on to make sure we have a comprehensive season," says Brawn. "We’re not going to declare it yet, as it’s still a work in progress.
“What we really want to avoid is announcing and changing it. We also need to announce it in enough time so people can make plans. We hope some races in the second half of the season will have spectators, so we need time for ticket sales and promotion to take place.”
Friday's press release from Formula 1 confirmed that 'significant progress' with the remainder of the calendar is being made.
The press release concluded: "At the same time we have made significant progress with existing and new promoters on the revised calendar and have been particularly encouraged by the interest that has been shown by new venues in hosting a Formula 1 race during the 2020 season.
"We appreciate this is still a time of uncertainty and complexity around the world and will continue to ensure we proceed with the 2020 season in a cautious and flexible way. We have detailed and robust safety plans in place to ensure we begin our season in the safest possible way."
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