Formula 1 2020: US, Mexico and Brazil GPs abandoned
30 July 2020 - autocar
Races at Nürburgring, Imola and Portimão set to join calendar as pandemic worsens in the Americas
Plans for Formula 1 to head to Brazil, the US and Mexico later this year have now been completely abandoned in light of the worsening coronavirus situation in the Americas.
The heavily revised 2020 F1 calendar had included a race at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas on 23 October, with the Mexican GP to be held the week after and Brazil on 13 November, but the three countries now have coronavirus infection rates that are among the worst worldwide, making it impossible for the events to go ahead.
Instead, three new European races will be added to the calendar: the Nürburgring is set to host an F1 race for the first time in seven years on 11 October, followed by a debut GP for Portugal's Portimão circuit on 25 October. Italy's Imola circuit will then host a race on 1 November - the track's first F1 GP since 2006, and the third race in 2020 that will be held in Italy.
The Nürburgring will carry the title of the Eifel Grand Prix, while the Portimão will be the first Portuguese Grand Prix since 1996, when Estoril last held the event. The Imola race will be labelled the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, eschewing the San Marino Grand Prix title used for 26 of the 27 races previously held at the circuit.
F1 races at the Nürburgring have historically been held earlier in the year, given the circuit's elevated position and vulnerability to bad weather. It is not uncommon to see snow in October.
In addition to the three cancelled events, stringent travel restrictions mean a planned 2020 Canadian GP, originally scheduled for June, will now not go ahead. With 13 races now confirmed, the 2020 season still falls well short of the 21 events that made up 2019's calendar, but F1 says there are "more to be announced in the coming weeks" and expects to host between 15 and 18 in total.
Italy's Mugello circuit was recently added to the Formula 1 calendar for the first time, joining Russia's Sochi track in a revised schedule for September.
The Tuscan Grand Prix at Mugello will take place on 13 September. This will be the first time that an F1 race has been held at the Ferrari-owned circuit, although official testing did take place there in 2012. The venue is more commonly associated with the MotoGP motorcycle series and is known for its 0.7-mile main straight.
The Russian Grand Prix will return to the seaside resort of Sochi for the sixth time since 2014, perhaps marking the end of the original 2014-2020 agreement to hold F1 races at the venue.
Speaking after the first race of the year, F1 CEO Chase Carey said: "We had a great start to our season in Austria, and we are increasingly confident in our plans to race throughout the remainder of 2020. The Russian Grand Prix is a major moment in our season, and we are looking forward to being back in Sochi in September.
"We are equally excited to see Formula 1 race for the first time at Mugello, an occasion that will mark Ferrari's 1000th [F1 championship] Grand Prix. Both races will be a huge boost for fans with more announcements on the next races in our calendar coming in the weeks ahead."
Along with Mugello and Sochi, F1 raced again at Austria for the Styrian Grand Prix before heading to Hungary, and it will race twice at Silverstone in August. There will also be conventional visits to Spain and Belgium. Initially, races will be held behind closed doors, but F1 bosses anticipate that spectators will be allowed in towards the end of the season.
In addition, Bahrain, China and Russia could each hold double-header races.