F1: Could 8 be the magic number?

F1: Could 8 be the magic number?

The grand prix season of 2020 could be reduced to as few as eight races as the Australian Grand Prix leads a collapse in the calendar.

With the first three Formula One races already gone, and doubts over any event in the Coronavirus hot spots, the championship might not start until Baku in June.

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix is currently set for June 7 and the region is not under serious threat from Covid-19, unlike the events in China, Holland, Spain and Monaco which currently sit on the schedule.

The best hope is an F1 re-start is to aim for countries where the outbreaks are now reducing.

The first choice would obviously be China, but at what point this becomes possible is yet to be determined. There is much talk of putting races into the tradition August mid-season break and trying new ideas with shorter events being put into triple-headers.

With government after government banning public events there are very few GPs that can be run if the restrictions remain in place.

At the moment there are restrictions in Holland, Spain, Azerbaijan, France, Austria, Hungary, Belgium, Italy, Singapore, Japan, the USA and Abu Dhabi.

Britain is expected to join them soon, while Russia already has bans in some cities but has yet to announce nationwide measures.

Canada, Mexico and Brazil are all also expected to react.

Monaco is still scheduled for May 24 but it is very unlikely to survive. The country sits between France and Italy and relies on labour from its two neighbouring countries.

So, although the population is 38,000, more than 25,000 travel from France every day, with another 4,000 from Italy. This is still going on and so the spread of the virus seems to be inevitable. Monaco needs a quick decision because it must invest in the construction of the circuit infrastructure and there are no guarantees that there will be sufficient manpower to do the job if they decide to push ahead.

The Canadian GP is also unlikely as the government is expected to act shortly. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is currently self-isolated after his wife tested positive to the virus after a trip to London.

Looking further into the future, and into the F1 rule book, the picture gets slightly clearer.

According to the FIA regulations, the series must have at least eight races to constitute a World Championship and these must take place on at least three continents.

In the circumstances, most of the teams are likely to switch their focus to developing their 2021 cars.

With major rule changes coming, that will dictate the pecking order for some years to come, it makes no sense to do more than the minimum with the 2020 machinery.

And, without any races for several months, there is no incentive to go on developing the current cars.