Hungarian government puts August 2 Grand Prix in jeopardy

A directive from the Hungarian government banning large public events until mid-August has thrown into doubt the country’s Grand Prix scheduled on August 2.

The new measure, published on Thursday, restricts until mid-August public events involving more than 500 participants to limit further propagation of the coronavirus.

The decision came just a day after Hungarian Grand Prix boss Zsolt Gyulay said that his organization was moving ahead with its plans to host its August 2 race at the Hungaroring, with the option of running a race without spectators.

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“The Hungaroring team has been regularly liaising with Formula 1 — the series’ international rights holder — to explore all possible ways to stage the 35th Formula 1 Magyar Nagydij in front of fans,” the event’s promoters said in a statement.

“However, in light of this decision this is unfortunately no longer possible.

“The health and wellbeing of all our fantastic Formula 1 fans, staff and championship participants has been and remains our primary concern throughout this period and with that in mind, we have regrettably been left with no choice but to reach this conclusion.

“We have continuously emphasised our willingness to work towards a safe solution that would allow us to welcome the entire Formula 1 family to the Hungaroring this August but it is now evident that any F1 race in Hungary can now only be held behind closed doors.”

It’s unclear if the event’s organisers will get a special dispensation from the government to exceed the imposed 500 people limit given that the F1 paddock’s population – even reduced by restrictive measures – far exceeds that number.

Hungary’s restrictions follow similar measures implemented by France and Belgium which led to the official cancellation of the former and to the latter being put in serious doubt.

Formula 1 boss Chase Carey stated earlier this week that he was confident the sport can kick off its 2020 season in early July at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, perhaps with a double-header event held behind closed doors.

Silverstone is also mulling hosting two successive races without fans right after Austria, but a ban on Hungary’s August 2 race will require F1 to slot in another event in its place as a third summer venue.

If safety conditions permit, Zandvoort could fill the void although Dutch Grand Prix sporting boss Jan Lammers has so far dismissed holding a race in front of empty grandstands.

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