Canadian GP promoter 'optimistic but lucid' about holding race

Charles Leclerc (FRA), Scuderia Ferrari
© XPB 

The promoter of the Canadian Grand Prix insists he remains optimistic that the event will go ahead as planned on June 14.

That's despite the postponement or cancellation of the first seven races of the 2020 schedule due to coronavirus, including events in Australia, China and Monaco.

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix scheduled for just one week before Canada joined the list of indefinitely delayed races in an announcement on Monday. That means if it goes ahead, Canada will be the season opener.

"It's still on the calendar as planned for June 14. We are optimistic," Francois Dumontier told media including and Huffington Post on Wednesday. "But we are also realistic.

"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.

"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," he predicted. If we have an announcement to make, we will make it between Easter and May 1.

"Like I said we are optimistic. But at the same time we are realistic and lucid," he added. " We need to evaluate the situation by the hour almost.

"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."

Unlike Monaco and Baku which run on temporary street circuits built specially for the event, the Canadian Grand Prix races on the semi-permanent Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Montreal's Île Notre-Dame.

That means less preparation is required, allowing for a later go/no-go decision to be made by Dumontier and his team.

"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," he confirmed.

As is the case in most countries around the world, the Canadian government has brought in tough restrictions on movement and assembly to slow down the spread of the virus in high density population centres.

Drivers as the grid observes the national anthem.

In Montreal, all non-essential businesses have been asked to close until at least April 13. That means even if the circuit wanted to get started on track preparations, it isn't able to do so without falling foul of the new rules.

"Currently we can'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."

While the extensive preparations required to hold a Grand Prix in Monaco mean that there is no possibility of rescheduling that event in 2020, other races currently affected by the coronavirus shutdown including the Dutch and Vietnam events remain hopeful of being rescheduled later in the year.

Dumontier also held out hope that this might be the case for Canada in the event that a postponement did ultimately prove necessary.

"We don't have any dates so far, I guess F1 will have to scramble and play with it," he said. "The Canadian GP will not be cancelled but rather moved to the new redesigned calendar that Chase Carey wants to adopt.

“We must completely forget the current F1 calendar. Countries will change dates, we will have to make certain concessions or accommodations."

However he pointed out that the harsh Canadian autumn and winter weather would certainly be a limiting factor.

"For us let's say after mid-October it's impossible to run the race," he said. "I will not be able to present the Canadian GP in November in Montreal. It has to be within the months that allow it, but we would be talking more about the end of summer or the beginning of autumn."

The first Canadian Grand Prix to be held in Montreal was held on October 8 in 1978, with subsequent races being scheduled for the end of September. However a switch to mid-June from 1982 has provided the event with much more clement conditions for both spectators and drivers alike.

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