August 29, 2019 / 9:25 AM / a month ago

Formula One releases record 22-race draft calendar

SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium (Reuters) - Formula One will have a record 22 races next season, a draft of the 2020 calendar released by the sport’s U.S.-based commercial rights holders Liberty Media confirmed on Thursday.

The season will kick off with the traditional start-of-term Australian Grand Prix on March 15 and finish in Abu Dhabi on Nov. 29.

“Since we became involved in this sport in 2017, we have talked about developing new destination cities to broaden the appeal of Formula One and at the same time, consolidating our presence in Europe, the traditional home of the sport,” said Formula One Chief Executive Chase Carey.

“It is significant for our sport and confirms our long-term strategy.”

An expansion of the calendar to 22 races had been widely expected with the futures of races in Spain, Mexico and Great Britain cleared up.

Formula One teams had already agreed to an expansion of the calendar to 22 races.

The season will feature seven back-to-backs, or races on consecutive weekends.

As was expected, the German Grand Prix, part of this year’s calendar of 21 races, will not be a part of next year’s schedule.

Vietnam will host its first race through the streets of capital Hanoi on April 5, while the Dutch Grand Prix will make its Formula One return after 35 years with a race at Zandvoort on May 3.

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix, held at the end of April this year, will move to June 7 while the Spanish Grand Prix, whose presence on the calendar was confirmed on Tuesday, has been given a May 10 date.

A deal securing the future of the Italian Grand Prix, marked with an asterisk on the draft calendar, is currently being finalised, the statement said.

The race at Monza is home to the sport’s most popular team Ferrari and local organizers and authorities have given next year’s race the go ahead.

The draft of the calendar will now be submitted to the International Automobile Federation’s (FIA) World Motor Sport Council on Oct. 4 where it will get final approval.

Reporting by Abhishek Takle; editing by Sudipto Ganguly

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