Formula One considering closed doors races when season starts

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It is likely the new Formula One season will get underway without spectators as the sport's organisers remain optimistic about salvaging as many as 19 races this year.

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the first nine races being either postponed or cancelled, leaving the 2020 F1 calendar in tatters.

The sport plans to get its season underway when it is safe to do so and, speaking in an interview with Sky Sports, F1's motorsport director Ross Brawn said it was likely to be at a European venue and as early as July if it is possible to hold a race behind closed doors.

"Travel for the teams and travel for everyone involved is going to be one of the big issues," Brawn said.

"You could argue once we get there we could become fairly self-contained.

"Our view is probably a European start will be favourable and that could even be a closed event. We could have a very enclosed environment, where teams come in on charters, we channel them into the circuit, we make sure everyone is tested, cleared and that there is no risk to anyone.

"We have a race with no spectators. That's not great, but it's better than no racing at all. We have to remember there are millions of people who follow the sport sat at home. A lot of them are isolating and to be able to keep the sport alive and put on a sport and entertain people would be a huge bonus in this crisis we have. But we can't put anyone at risk.

"We're looking at the organisational structure which would give us the earliest start. But also the ability to maintain that start. There's no point having a start and then stopping again for a while. It's most likely to be in Europe. It's conceivable that it could be a closed event."

However, if governments are unable to lift restrictions on movement, it may not be possible for F1 teams -- which are based in the UK, Italy and Switzerland -- to travel to races.

Under the sport's regulations, eight races are needed to make a full championship and Brawn said that means the cut-off date for starting the season is October.

"Eight races is the minimum we can have for a world championship, [according to] the FIA Statutes," Brawn added. "We could achieve eight races by starting in October. So if you wanted a drop dead point it would be October.

"But then there is always the possibility we could run into next year. That's being explored. Can we stray into January to finish the season? There are all sorts of complications, as you can imagine, with that.

"If we were able to start at the beginning of July we could do a 19-race season. [It would be] tough -- three races on, one weekend off, three races on, one weekend off. We have looked at all the logistics, and we think we can hold an 18-19 race season if we can get started at the beginning of July. The choice is between those two numbers."

In order to cram as many races into the year as possible, F1 would likely rip up the existing calendar and start again. In order to hold three races on consecutive weekends in far-flung locations, the sport is also considering two-day races, which would mean Friday practice does not go ahead.

"We may have some two-day races in order to meet the logistical needs," Brawn said. "For instance China looks like it will probably be a two-day race if we go ahead with it because to get there and get away to the next event we are planning, it could easily be a two-day race."