Coronavirus: F1 confident of starting season with Austrian GP in July

Lewis Hamilton's F1 world title defence could begin in July with a race in Austria, according to tournament chief executive Chase Carey.

Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton are among the leading title contenders for the 2020 season.   -  Getty Images

Formula One chief executive Chase Carey is confident racing for the 2020 season can begin in July with the Austrian Grand Prix.

With this year's championship hugely affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the French Grand Prix scheduled for late June became the latest race to be called off on Monday.

But that update was followed up by a positive statement from Carey in which he said F1 bosses were optimistic of putting on a campaign that will include 15 to 18 grands prix.

At present, the race in Austria between July 3 and 5 is being targeted to begin the season, although initial races would need to take part without fans in attendance at circuits.

"Although it was announced the French Grand Prix will not be going ahead, we are now increasingly confident with the progress of our plans to begin our season this summer," said Carey.

"We're targeting a start to racing in Europe through July, August and beginning of September, with the first race taking place in Austria on 3-5 July weekend.

"September, October and November, would see us race in Eurasia, Asia and the Americas, finishing the season in the Gulf in December with Bahrain before the traditional finale in Abu Dhabi, having completed between 15-18 races.

"We will publish our finalised calendar as soon as we possibly can.

"We expect the early races to be without fans but hope fans will be part of our events as we move further into the schedule.”

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Carey, who praised teams for their work to support the manufacturing of ventilators in the fight against COVID-19, insisted the global health situation would be analysed throughout.

"We still have to work out many issues like the procedures for the teams and our other partners to enter and operate in each country,” he added.

"The health and safety of all involved will continue to be priority one and we will only go forward if we are confident we have reliable procedures to address both risks and possible issues.

"All of our plans are obviously subject to change as we still have many issues to address and all of us are subject to the unknowns of the virus. 

"We all want the world to return to the one we know and cherish, yet we recognise it must be done in the right and safest way."

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