F1 boss Carey says he’s close to finalising a 2021 calendar that will look far more like a 'normal' season than the 2020 version.
A provisional schedule would normally have been revealed by now, but Carey says F1 is holding back mainly because the 2020 calendar is still a work in progress, with the final batch of races yet to be confirmed.
No brand-new events are anticipated for 2021, unless any of the tracks that have stepped in at the last minute in 2020 are able to secure a date, while one of the question marks surrounds Brazil, as the current Interlagos contract expires this year.
“We haven't announced 2021 just because the focus is on 2020,” Carey told Wall Street analysts. “But we're pretty close to finalising 2021. We've got a couple agreements to complete, where we have the business terms agreed, and we've got to paper it.
“There's been no impact on that. Those are obviously discussions that would have begun well before the virus, and it's certainly not had any negative impact. And I think in some ways, it is the importance of getting back to the world as we know it and re-energising. The conversation and interest, we've not seen any negative, given our calendar for 2021.”
Carey says the schedule will have familiar shape to it, although COVID-19 may continue to have an impact.
“We are planning a 2021 season that looks pretty much like what we would have expected it to look like at the beginning of this year,” he added. “And then, obviously, we qualify that with we don't have any better visibility than anybody else as to what this virus is going to look like as we go forward.
“I do think one has to realise that we're about five months into the virus, and our season in March would be still seven months away. So there's a long time, and conversations on vaccines and treatments and testing and the like will obviously continue to evolve.
“We also obviously race in 22 countries, so we deal with a much bigger mixed bag of issues throughout this, but we are planning on 2021 that looks like what we would expect, which probably will be a 22-race calendar.”
He admitted it might start later to take account of the mid-December finish anticipated for 2020: “We may make it so there's a little more space in the front end of it, so the calendar in the second half is a little busier, and we've got a little more flexibility built into it.
“But I think that's probably a tweak to it, not a real restructuring. Clearly as this goes along, we'll know more. And there's always the possibility that we make some adjustments as we go forward.”
Carey hopes to have fans return as early as Mugello in September, and that having spectators at events will become normal next year.
“At this point we're planning races that will have fans,” he said. “We've been in touch with most of our events. Again, nobody has visibility to this. We’ll obviously have a lot of sports ahead of us.
“What will the NBA, the NHL do, if they get the next season going? What will the soccer leagues in Europe do as their seasons get going? So I think we do have the benefit of a lot of things that will be in front of us as templates around the world.”
Regarding new events planned for the longer term he said: “The conversations we have right now are probably early stage, because they're not for next year. We've got next year, as I said, it's pretty much done. And we're just finishing the agreements for it.
“We're not pushing 2022 and beyond, but there are still parties that we've talked to that, again, if not in any way, their interest hasn't diminished.
“We're not into those sort of agreements, we're not really into business terms, and we're talking a race that's two or three years away, because it's early stages. So you're really talking more about the opportunity, and what you can do with it, and things around it. So it's not the detail substance.”