After all the disruption to this year's Formula 1 world championship calendar due to the coronavirus pandemic, Formula 1 bosses are hoping that the current chaos won't end up also spilling over to next year's campaign.
“Our goal is to have 2021 look like the 2021 we planned back in January," Formula 1 CEO Chase Carey confirmed in a first quarter conference call with investors and the media on Thursday.
Although it's still too early to be entirely confident, the comments suggest that next year's calendar will finally hit the 22-race high-water mark that it was intended to reach this season.
“We don’t have a magic number, but the answer is yes," Carey responded when asked if that was still the target.
"We expect 2021 to look like the 2021 we were looking at in January, so if we planned on 22 races, then again we don’t have a magic number but we’d still be planning on 22 races."
Last year's championship consisted of 21 races, but the addition of events in Vietnam and the Netherlands - offset by the loss of the German Grand Prix - would have seen a longer season in 2020.
The Spanish GP received a one-year reprieve to stay on this year's schedule, but subsequently become one of multiple races to have been indefinitely postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
F1 is hoping to reschedule many of the affected races over the summer and autumn period. While Spain is not considered to be a priority for a new date, its organisers remain hopeful.
"I think we are quite optimistic in hosting a closed-doors Formula 1 Grand Prix just in the middle of summer,” the general manager of Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya told MotorsportWeek.com this week.
“It’s what we are talking about with Liberty Media," Joan Fontserè said. "I hope we can include our Grand Prix in those first rounds of the season, with the European Grands Prix.”
If Spain's race doesn't go ahead this year there's no guarantee that it will be able to carry over the event to the 2021 season. Instead, F1 bosses are hoping that a new Miami Grand Prix will take its place.
“Ultimately we have renewals to put in place," Carey said. "And we have some ongoing discussions with a potential couple of new races that we think would be a positive enhancement to the business for fans and shareholders."
As for this year, F1 is hoping to boost the number of races by holding double headers at venues such as the Red Bull Ring and Silverstone. Even so, it will still be a challenge to hit the revised target of 18 events.
The current plan is for the season to conclude Bahrain and Abu Dhabi in mid-December rather than end up rolling into next year.
F1 has already postponed planned sweeping rules changes for next season, as well as putting caps on budget and the amount of development work that teams can undertake before next year's campaign kicks off in mid-March.