Sebastian Vettel expects the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic to impact the start of Formula 1's 2021 season.
Formula 1 recently published its provisional 2021 calendar that is set to include a record 23 races.
The massive schedule will once again take teams around the world as the sport resumes a normal course of events. But much will obviously depend on the world's sanitary situation and the evolution of the coronavirus pandemic.
"We’re planning for events, we’re planning to have fans, we’re planning to have a season that I don’t know that I’d say is ‘normal’, but certainly gets us back to normal, closer to normal on that track," said F1 boss Chase Carey.
Queried on next year's packed-to-the-brim agenda, Vettel was concerned as much by the strain imposed on teams as by the risks of the coronavirus throwing another spanner in the works, at least in the early part of 2021.
"Twenty-three races is quite a bit of an effort, it is not just the one and a half hours you see on a Sunday, it’s a lot more work behind the scenes," said the four-time world champion.
"Then the other one even before that is what type of beginning of the season we will have and how long the situation around the pandemic will last.
"I think that will dictate also next year’s calendar and probably at least the start of the season.
"We all hope by then we are back to normal, people are allowed to come to the races etc, and yeah, we can focus on the racing again."
Since the start of the current campaign, Formula 1 has adopted a strict protocol to keep the coronavirus out of the paddock as much as possible while teams have also implemented special measures at their bases to limit risks of contagion.
"We have proven that we can safely travel and operate our races and our promoters increasingly recognise the need to move forward and manage the virus," said Carey.
"In fact, many hosts actually want to use our event as a platform to show the world they are moving forward."
While F1 has been successful in mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on its population, holding races behind closed gates is financially untenable in the longer term for the sport and for race promoters.
One can therefore only hope for a significant dissipation of the global pandemic in the coming months. But hope is not a strategy, unfortunately.