McLaren Racing’s Zak Brown weighs in on the 2020 F1 calendar situation as he expresses happiness over new ‘We Race As One’ initiative.
Its extraordinarily rare that with hardly more than a week to go before a F1 season opener, there are rumors about the tracks that may feature on the upcoming campaign’s calendar, or in fact how many races there will be.
But alas, the COVID-19 pandemic’s drastic reshuffling of the 2020 F1 season has left us in precisely this situation, where a mere eight European races are set in stone, and the remaining flyaway races – as well as further Grand Prix in Europe – are still up in the air.
The uncertainty has led to a great deal of discussion and hypothesizing in relation to the calendar, and one of F1’s major figures – McLaren Racing head Brown – hedged his bets on a 16-race calendar when speaking to Sky Sports F1.
“My money would be on 15-16 Grand Prix,” stated Brown. “The eight European will be expanded to ten – [and] maybe eleven. Russia’s pretty strong, China I’m hearing wants a race, America is a bit of a question mark.
“I also think you can do three, maybe four races in the middle-east, two in Bahrain, maybe two in Abu Dhabi – I can see 16 races. 18 might be a challenge, but if I was going to Vegas and I had to bet, I’d bet on 16 Grand Prix.
“Not long ago that was a complete season in F1.” Notably, Brown did not account for potential extra F1 races, perhaps at Mugello, Imola, or even Algarve, in his prediction, but events at such venues are still something that he still finds likely.
This is especially true in the cases of Mugello and Portimao – the latter being a somewhat unorthodox inclusion in the ‘likely’ category given recent rhetoric within the rumour mill, that portrays Mugello, Hockenheim and Imola as more likely candidates.
“I’ve never been around Mugello myself, [but] everyone says it’s an unbelievable track,” said Brown. “I’ve seen Mark Webber’s comments about it, so that one seems pretty likely from everything that I hear.
“It sounds like a spectacular track, I don’t know how it will race – apparently it’s very quick. And, Portimao in Portugal, that seems to be talked about most frequently. It’s a very bumpy track, I think the Grand Prix drivers will love driving around.
“It has lots of elevation, so I think that’s exciting,” said Brown. The recent speculation talks about Mugello as more or less confirmed as Imola is trying to make it a triple-header in Italy with Monza as the starting point in September.
Reports of Canada having a new date in October has also surfaced but it has to be seen if F1 will travel all the way there for a single event as USA, Brazil and Mexico remains a question mark due to the rise in COVID-19 pandemic cases.
Amid this, Russia and China along with Vietnam is still be firm, while Middle East seems a safer bet with two in Bahrain and one in Abu Dhabi. Amid this dramatic ‘will they?/won’t they?’ dynamic between F1 and the aforementioned tracks, though, there has been work being done behind the scenes with F1 and its ‘We Race As One’ initiative.
Brown and McLaren played a key role in the development of this F1 diversification program. The 48-year-old discussed this project, stressing its significance. “With everything that’s been going on in the world, [it’s clear] we all need to work more closely together, and there’s a variety of topics from COVID to racism, to sustainability,” he said.
“I think we’re all trying to make the world a better place, so it was something that our marketing team worked with Formula 1 on so we could do it hand-in-hand. F1 has such great reach, such a great following around the world, it’s such a diverse sport in so many different ways, and it’s a great platform to get some positivisty out there and to send a message that we all think the world should be a better place, and McLaren wants to contribute, and play our role in that,” summed up Brown.
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The story was edited by Darshan Chokhani