LONDON (Reuters) - Hockenheim will not host a Formula One race this year after being mooted as a possible stand-in on a calendar ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, the German circuit’s manager Jorn Teske said on Thursday.
Teske told Reuters that a crowd ban had been a sticking point, with Formula One hoping to allow spectators back later in the year after the championship started this month behind closed doors.
“A decision was taken after weeks and months talking to Formula One,” he said. “At the end they decided not to come to us. So all efforts came to nothing, but that’s life.”
Teske had said in May that Hockenheim was ready to step in if British quarantine restrictions prevented Silverstone from hosting a Formula One race and so long as it was commercially viable.
Silverstone is hosting races on back-to-back weekends starting on Aug. 2 but Hockenheim, whose German Grand Prix was not on the original 2020 calendar, had continued the talks.
“When we started our discussions it was always about a race without fans,” said Teske.
“And a little bit later in the process the question was raised if there was a chance to get fans to Hockenheimring.
“They (Formula One) expressed to us that they are interested in having fans at all European races beginning from September or October. If this becomes true, I don’t know,” he added. “We have the regulations in place and we cannot change this.”
Russian Grand Prix organisers have said spectators will be allowed to attend their Sept 27 race in Sochi, but Hockenheim’s Baden-Wuerttemberg state authorities have a ban on mass gatherings until October.
The sport, whose season finally started in Austria this month, cancelled the Australian opener in March as well as the showcase Monaco Grand Prix in May and races in France, the Netherlands, Singapore, Japan and Azerbaijan.
The Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai is expected to be cancelled soon while Texas, Mexico and Brazil look unlikely due to the spread of the disease.
Formula One has said it remains optimistic about a 15-18 round calendar.
Italy’s Mugello circuit has been scheduled for September, a race that will be Ferrari’s 1,000th, and the country could have a third round with Imola under consideration along with Portugal’s Algarve circuit in Portimao.
Media reports have also suggested Germany’s Nuerburgring could be an option, although weather conditions late in the year could make that tricky.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar
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