LONDON: The 2020 Azerbaijan, Singapore and Japanese Grands Prix have been cancelled in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Formula 1 has confirmed.
Earlier this month the opening eight races of a revised calendar for the 2020 season were announced, beginning with the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring in the first weekend of July.
Since then F1 have continued to work hard to finalise the remaining calendar for the season, and are confident of having between 15-18 races by the time the season concludes in Abu Dhabi in mid-December. A new calendar is expected to be published before the season begins in Austria.
But it was confirmed Thursday that the Azerbaijan, Singapore and Japanese races will not be part of the calendar for 2020.
The first eight races of the 2020 season were confirmed two weeks ago
A statement from F1 released on Friday morning said: "As a result of the ongoing challenges presented by COVID-19, we and our promoters in Azerbaijan, Singapore and Japan have taken the decision to cancel their races for the 2020 season.
"These decisions have been taken due to the different challenges our promoters face in those countries. In Singapore and Azerbaijan the long lead times required to construct street circuits made hosting the events during a period of uncertainty impossible and in Japan, ongoing travel restrictions also led to the decision not to proceed with the race.
"At the same time we have made significant progress with existing and new promoters on the revised calendar and have been particularly encouraged by the interest that has been shown by new venues in hosting a Formula 1 race during the 2020 season.
"We appreciate this is still a time of uncertainty and complexity around the world and will continue to ensure we proceed with the 2020 season in a cautious and flexible way. We have detailed and robust safety plans in place to ensure we begin our season in the safest possible way."
Chase Carey on creating the 2020 calendar during the pandemic
On Thursday F1's motorsports chief Ross Brawn explained that the plan for the second half of the season is coming together.
“Things are moving fast, but we still have time,” he said. “We have lots of different options and we’re very confident we’re going to have a great second half of the season.
“There is a contingency to have an extended European season with another one or two races if needed. I think Bahrain and Abu Dhabi will be the backstop of the season from what we can see at the moment. That gives us 10. We’ll find at least five or six good races in the middle."
Brawn also revealed other European tracks are being evaluated, with the likes of Ferrari-owned Mugello, Imola, Portimao, and Hockenheim all understood to be under consideration.
“There are a number of good European tracks where we could add another one or two races on to make sure we have a comprehensive season," he added. "We’re not going to declare it yet, as it’s still a work in progress.”