Canadian Grand Prix promoter Francois Dumontier insists June’s race in Montreal might still go ahead as planned despite the threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic. The spread of the Covid-19 virus across the globe has led to the first eight races of the 2020 F1 season being called off.
Grands Prix in Australia, China and Monaco have all been cancelled, while visits to Bahrain, Vietnam, Holland, Spain and Azerbaijan have been postponed for now.
The Canadian Grand Prix, which Lewis Hamilton has won seven times to make it his joint-most successful race alongside the meet in Hungary, is set to be the new start to the 2020 season on June 14.
Dumontier is hopeful the race will not become the latest to fall victim to the pandemic but admits a decision to call it off might have to be made in a few weeks’ time.
Restrictions imposed by the Canadian authorities mean no work can be carried out at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve at present and an extension of those might mean the Grand Prix has to be axed.
“As you can imagine I’m in discussion almost every day or every two days with Formula 1,” Dumontier told Motorsport.com. “I’m also in discussion with the local authorities here, the city and the government.
“It’s still on the calendar as planned, June 14. We are optimistic, but we are also realistic. We still have a few weeks – I would say two or three weeks in front of us – before we would have to start erecting the grandstands and preparing the site.
“If we need to take a decision about postponing the event that decision will be a common decision between F1 and myself sometime after the Easter weekend.
“Yesterday here in Quebec our Prime Minister asked all non-essential businesses to close up to April 13.
“So currently we couldn’t do any work at the track. My team, who organise the race, have been working from home for the last week or 10 days.
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“So we still have two or three weeks in front of us before taking the decision. Hopefully we could do it on the date, becoming the first race of the season. But at the same time I’m working on different scenarios on postponing the event.
“We don’t have any dates so far – I guess F1 will have to scramble and play with it. For us let’s say after mid-October it’s impossible to run the race [due to the conditions of the Canadian winter].”
The Canadian Grand Prix, at which a Sebastian Vettel error gifted Hamilton another win last year, receives funding from the public purse but Dumontier insists that will not impact the decision over whether the race can go ahead.
“We’re a private company who runs the event,” Dumontier said. “We’ve got some support from private funding, but not into the organisation itself. We are in contact with them, and when we take the decision, they will be aligned with us.”
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While Dumontier would be reluctant to call off the Montreal meet, he accepts it may be in the best interests of all involved.
“It would be very bad luck not to run the event,” Dumontier said. “I can understand that F1 needs to look at the overall situation around the world, but if we go there, we would work for 2021.
“Like I said we are optimistic, but at the same time we are realistic and lucid. We need to evaluate the situation by the hour almost. We still have two or three weeks in front of us.
“If we need to postpone the event we will, because if we do the event we need to do it in a safe environment for drivers, spectators, workers, everybody.”
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