Saturday , 24 October 2020
Pirelli Motorsport

Addressing the unusual problem Formula 1 will face in 2020

The ongoing global situation has sent the 2020 Formula 1 calendar into anarchy. What was originally supposed to be a 22-round calendar has been severely affected due to the catastrophe that has affected the lives of almost everybody on this planet.

Several races have been cancelled, and returning to previous venues has been mooted as a replacement as the series so desperately is trying to cram as many races in a short timeframe – something that is crucial to not only the short-term health of the highest echelon of motorsport but the longer-term health too.

Another proposal – and something that seems highly likely – is to host several rounds of the championship on the same circuit more than once this year. That is unheard of and, as a result, there comes an unusual conundrum for the series.

While F1 does have more important things to worry about – primarily the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved in the series – the titles used for additional races at circuits are also important. After all, surely two races at Silverstone this year can’t both be given the title of the British Grand Prix?

If there were the British GP I and II, then it does pose the issue of determining who was the winner of the British Grand Prix. It is something that teams in Formula E – which does run doubleheader Eprix – are not fond of. But this does provide an opportunity for F1 to host races under titles that either we have previously not seen or have disappeared off the schedule.

Silverstone used to host more than one F1 race a year on a regular basis in the past – with the non-championship International Trophy being run. While not a ‘grand prix’ as such, titling a second race at Silverstone would be a pleasant nod to the non-championship past that F1 regularly likes to ignore and it could be treated as a GP.

The 1950 British GP – the very first world championship race – also was given the honorary title of the European Grand Prix. That title hasn’t appeared on the schedule since the race in Baku in 2016 – hardly in the centre of the continent – but was once a regular fixture on the calendar. Venues such as the Nurburgring, Valencia, Jerez, Brands Hatch and Donington Park all hosted that race. It would be nice to pay homage to the first world championship circuit to host the European GP honorifically – which also hosted the last.

There could also be the opportunity for F1 to take a page from IndyCar’s book and allow sponsors to title grand prix. Sponsored grand prix are nothing new – just look at how many races have ‘Heineken’ or ‘Pirelli’ in the full title these days. Should F1 visit the Red Bull Ring more than once this year, which appears likely – could we have the Austrian Grand Prix and the Red Bull Grand Prix? Or the AlphaTauri Grand Prix?

Another option is to name the event after the circuit itself – as the Pescara Grand Prix was in 1957. Whether that may produce a little bit of confusion between the Silverstone Grand Prix and the British Grand Prix or not could factor into this being a slightly less popular option. A slightly more out there proposition is taking a page from the late-1990s – by bringing back the Luxembourg Grand Prix (which was held at the Nurburgring).

This is a minor conundrum in the grander scheme of things, but one that does provide an opportunity to show some acknowledgement of its past – especially in the year F1 celebrates its 70th anniversary of the world championship. Who knows – maybe they’ll even visit the Brands Hatch Indy Circuit and revive the ‘Indy 500’ part.

About Craig Woollard

Motorsport historian and journalist Craig Woollard has had an unusual path to a career in motorsport. After graduating from the University of Essex with a degree in mathematics in 2013, he changed his career path immediately after discovering a talent for writing. After occasional freelance work in 2015 and 2016, he joined the Autosport Academy for 2017. In the same year, he became an archive digitiser at Motorsport Images - which is his full-time job to this date.

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