F1 2020: Extra Bahrain race to use alternate track

Calendar grows to 17 races with addition of events in Turkey, Abu Dhabi and a Bahrain double-header

Four more dates have been added to the disrupted 2020 Formula 1 calender, taking the season total to 17 races. The new events include a pair of races at Sakhir in Bahrain, with one taking place on an all-new ‘high-speed’ track layout.

The Bahrain Grand Prix will take place on 29 November on the Bahrain International Circuit’s usual 5.31-kilometre grand prix layout. But F1 bosses have now confirmed the Sakhir Grand Prix on 6 December will take place on the venue’s 3.54-kilometre outer track.

The new circuit features just 10 corners and three long straights, which should make for a substantially different race than the far twistier international loop. Notably, the circuit will be the second shortest used by F1, which means the race will run for 87 laps. F1 bosses are predicting qualifying lap times of around 55 seconds, with race lap times of around 60 seconds.

Before the Bahrain double-header the sport will return to Istanbul Park in Turkey – a challenging, fast circuit popular with fans and drivers – for the first time since 2011, when it dropped off the calendar after seven years due to financial reasons.

The season will then finish at the Yas Marina track in Abu Dhabi, as is now traditional, but on the much later date of 13 December.

This is the latest and almost certainly final batch of races to be added to the calendar, after the Nurburgring, Imola and Portimao were added last month.

F1 has confirmed that it won’t be able to visit the Shanghai International Circuit for the Chinese Grand Prix, despite attempts to organise this in recent months. It was also rumoured in recent weeks that Jerez in Spain could be added to the calendar, but it appears that this won’t be the case.

The 2020 F1 season now looks to be finalised with 17 races, down from the 22 planned before the pandemic, but enough to fulfil F1’s contractual obligations for the championship to be valid.

Turkey, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi will be the only circuits used outside of Europe – all in Asia – with no visits to the Americas possible, due to the severity of the coronavirus situation there.

F1 has also confirmed that, despite its strict self-imposed Covid-19 measures, specators will be allowed at some races later in the year. It said: “While we want to see as many fans as possible return as soon as it is safe to do so, our priority remains the safety of the F1 community and the communities we visit, and we review fan access on this basis.”

F1 CEO Chase Carey said: “This year has presented F1 and the world with an unprecedented challenge, and we want to pay tribute to everyone across F1, the FIA, the teams, and our partners who have made this possible.

“While we are all disappointed that we have not been able to return to some of our planned races this year we are confident our season has started well and will continue to deliver plenty of excitement with traditional, as well as new, races that will entertain all our fans.”

Races originally scheduled for 2020 but now cancelled are: Australia, Vietnam, China, The Netherlands, Monaco, Azerbaijan, Canada, France, Singapore, Japan, the US, Mexico and Brazil.

The full confirmed 2020 season is as follows:

5 July: Austrian GP, Red Bull Ring

12 July: Styrian GP, Red Bull Ring

19 July: Hungarian GP, Mogyoród

2 August: British GP, Silverstone

9 August: 70th Anniversary GP, Silverstone

16 August: Spanish GP, Catalunya-Barcelona

30 August: Belgian GP, Spa-Francorchamps

6 September: Italian GP, Monza

13 September: Tuscan GP, Mugello

27 September: Russian GP, Sochi

11 October: Eifel GP, Nürburgring

25 October: Portuguese GP, Portimão

1 November: Emilia Romagna GP, Imola

15 November: Turkish GP, Istanbul Park

29 November: Bahrain GP, Sakhir

6 December: Sakhir GP, Sakhir

13 December: Abu Dhabi GP, Yas Marina

Cris Culmer

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