Austria GP eyes 2020 green light by ‘end of May’ (Update)

F1 will be 1.5 months behind NASCAR in returning to racing
F1 will be 1.5 months behind NASCAR in returning to racing

UPDATE (GMM) A decision about whether F1's 2020 season can restart in Austria is now imminent.

Formula 1, and race promoter Red Bull, have submitted a safety plan for the back-to-back 'ghost races' for July to the Austrian government.

Health minister Rudolf Anschober now says that a decision should be made "immediately after Pentecost". Pentecost is a Christian holiday that this year falls on May 31.

"We are actually finished with the processing," Austrian press quote the minister as saying.

"Our experts are looking at this very precisely because, of course, it is also an essential decision that in reality also sends a signal."

Anschober also said the corona pandemic in the country is "very stable".

Dr Helmut Marko said he is eagerly awaiting the announcement of the decision about whether the racing can go ahead at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg.

"Extra questions were asked and they were answered. We hope to receive positive news as soon as possible," he said.

"If the decision comes after Pentecost, we can still organize the races. It would be better if we got an answer before the weekend, but we don't want to impose on the government," added Marko.

05/22/20 (GMM) The world of Formula 1 could know by the end of next week if the 2020 season will get up and running in July.

Red Bull, the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, and Formula 1 have applied to relevant authorities in Austria for approval for back-to-back 'ghost races' in early to mid July.

"The answer, with possible adjustments, should come from the government by the end of May," Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko told Osterreich newspaper.

He added that there will then be enough time to make any adjustments suggested by the government to comply with safety requirements during the corona crisis.

F1 is targeting an up to 19-race calendar between July and December.

Marko said: "I can imagine that we will have about 10 to 15 races, provided the two opening races can be carried out as planned in Austria.

"That would be absolutely enough for the world championship, but it will require a lot of flexibility from everyone involved."

The disparity between F1's planned 19 races and the 10-15 expected by Marko is because several countries on the proposed calendar may not take place.

The US GP, for instance, is under a cloud after Austin health official Dr Mark Escott told the American Statesman newspaper that "large events" will be "the last thing we're going to turn back on".

"Looking through the end of December, we don't have any indications at this stage that we would be able to mitigate risk enough to have large events," he said.

Marko, though, thinks the time has come for the world to re-open.

"The situation is gradually improving, bringing us closer to the beginning of the season," he said.

"Safety and health are of the utmost importance, but I believe that it is time to return to a normal life, with sports and spectators."

Meanwhile, Marko does not think Formula 1 itself is at risk of collapse due to the global restrictions.

"Formula 1 will survive," he said. "People crave sport, they want to be entertained – they need the thrill that a Formula 1 race can offer."

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