Formula 1 teams won’t be racking up the air miles this year with Europe set to dominate the make-up of the calendar on account of the coronavirus. But that won’t lessen anyone’s achievements or affect how the eventual champion is labelled.
Last week’s announcement that Formula 1 will not make a visit to the Americas was a blow but one that was expected within the context of the coronavirus pandemic.
Given the uncertainty, risk of travel restrictions remaining or even tightening, as well as the financial implications, championship chiefs had no option but to abandon hopes of taking trans-Atlantic trips until 2021.
It is a disappointing outcome all around though one that was unavoidable. Formula 1 has temporarily – though perhaps permanently in the case of Brazil’s Interlagos – lost some incredible locations with fantastic race tracks.
Those four events can be added to the seven rounds already called off for 2020, which includes the likes of Singapore’s night race spectacular, Japan’s iconic Suzuka circuit and Australia’s customary Melbourne opener.
365体育投注APPIt also raised the question of what constitutes a world championship.
365体育投注APPFormula 1 and governing body FIA has a lot of rules books, sporting codes and clauses. Unsurprisingly, there are paragraphs that detail requirements for the use of ‘world’ in ‘world championship’.
Article 2.4.3.b.i (yes, this is very FIA) proclaims that in order to be considered for world championship status a competition must have events “taking place on at least three continents during the same season.”
North and South America are now out of the equation while the paddock’s sole visit to Australasia did actually take place but came to a juddering halt before a Formula 1 car had hit the track. The V10-engined Minardi that wakes everyone up doesn’t count.
365体育投注APPAs it stands Formula 1 has so far only scheduled events for Europe this season, though Sochi is in a very different part of the continent to the other 12 rounds, often referred to as ‘Eurasia’.
365体育投注APPA second continent should be ticked off as events in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi are planned – with dates to be confirmed – while Vietnam (and potentially one other location) could yet enter the equation to add to an Asian expedition.
365体育投注APPBut even then that leaves Formula 1 on two continents.
When was Formula 1 last this concentrated in one place?
Until it began seeking pastures new, and chased those armed with hefty chequebooks, the series was heavily Europe-based; for example, 10 of the 16 events in 2003 took place on the continent.
Even as recently as 2009 15 of the 17 grands prix took place either in Europe or Asia, with Australia and Brazil the outliers in different continents.
In the early days of the World Championship only Argentina and the anomalous Indianapolis 500 were non-European events.
There is, however, a clause to the clause in the rule book, which states “the FIA may exceptionally grant a waiver for a series which can show long-established use of the word ‘World’.”
Considering the World Championship has been around 70 years – as has been prominently seen in pretty much every graphics set shown this season – that can be taken to be fairly ‘long-established’.
365体育投注APPThere is also the clause that it still counts if events can be considered to be cancelled due to Force Majeure. Considering the fact that we are mid-pandemic, with borders closed, gatherings prohibited, and restrictions to the extent that most of the Formula 1 paddock in Hungary were confined to hotels, it is pretty justifiable to consider that counts as Force Majeure.
If anything, Formula 1 should be lauded for its efforts in getting racing back underway in a safe and controlled manner, wherever it is.
There are, of course, drawbacks. The difficulty of organising city events means the challenge of street racing has been removed for the first time in memory. Ironically, given its reputation, Sochi may be the circuit in 2020 which has the walls closest to the racing line. And holding multiple events at the same location is not ideal – but as it stands only Spielberg and Silverstone (and perhaps Sakhir) will host two grands prix.
365体育投注APPBut in the middle of a pandemic, and just a few months after the situation was in crisis stage, Formula 1 has arranged a calendar that features 11 different locations, a figure that could yet rise to 15, with 18 races overall still possible. Three of those venues are in the same country, but then again, it isn’t a unique situation, for three of the 16 stops in 1982 were in the United States.
In any sporting competition 2020 will always be seen as that 365体育投注APPyear, with an asterisk, appendix, and a swathe of information explaining the situation for future generations.
It is a shame that Formula 1 cannot visit some wonderful locations, but these are peculiar times, and the championship has salvaged an unexpectedly intriguing roster of events instead. And whoever emerges atop the standings come December will still rightly deserve the title of World Champion.