Formula One bosses will consider extending the 2020 season into 2021 in a bid to fit as many races as possible into the season.
A new-look calendar is currently being worked on that will see races scheduled for the August summer break and through into December — or possibly even January — City A.M. understands.
While F1 chief executive Chase Carey has accepted that the planned 22-race calendar will not be possible due to the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, he is determined to have a season that consists of at least 15 Grands Prix.
Those races are now unlikely to be in their original order for logistical reasons, with the need to reschedule races across multiple continents set to necessitate an increase in events on consecutive weekends.
F1 last week moved the summer factory shutdown to 27 March to create more space in the calendar, and have also delayed the implementation of new technical regulations, planned for next year, until 2022.
Carey said the new schedule would “differ significantly” from the original calendar but added that the “potential for additional postponements” makes it difficult to give any clarity on what that schedule would look like at present.
So far six races have officially been postponed, while the Australian and Monaco Grands Prix have instead been cancelled.
The action was not called off in Melbourne earlier this month until the Friday morning of race weekend following a positive case of coronavirus at McLaren and it appears the event will not be rescheduled for this season.
Monaco, meanwhile, cannot be rearranged due to restrictions on when it can host the race through the streets of Monte Carlo each year. Should the season eventually be given the green light, it will be the first since 1954 not to include the blue riband event.
Despite initial criticism for its slow response, F1 has since proactively suspended the season for the foreseeable future.
The Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku became the eighth to be affected earlier this week, postponing the start of the season until at least mid-June.
But despite the ongoing disruption, there is a determination to fit an entire season in before the 2021 campaign begins — even if that means putting on an eight-race season, reminiscent of F1’s formative days in the 1950s and early 60s, sources have told City A.M.
However, F1 chiefs are understood to be confident that such drastic measures will not be necessary and Carey announced on Monday that he was hopeful of there being as many as 18 races on the calendar for 2020.
One of the reasons F1’s owner Liberty Media is keen to ensure the season consists of at least 15 races is because it is the minimum required for full payment from TV broadcasters.
Sky Sports and other foreign broadcasters will only have to pay the agreed amount to Liberty should there be at least 15 live races.
Anything less and there is a sliding scale in place that would see Sky pay F1 less than the around £120m per year agreed. The same applies to other broadcasters.
It is not yet clear which races, other than Monaco and Australia, are set to be cut from the revised calendar, which at present would start in Canada on 14 June before heading straight to Europe.