As Imola, Hockenheim & more offer to host races, is F1 missing a chance with its new 2020 calendar?

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In a year when the sport was meant to be celebrating its 70th anniversary, it can't be denied right now that Formula 1 is facing one of the biggest challenges in its history.

Because of the coronavirus, almost half of the races have been wiped out and the financial fallout has left teams and owners Liberty Media scrambling, with the impact likely to be felt for years to come.

Amid the ongoing uncertainty though, there is the first sign that F1 is wanting to return to the racetrack from July and hold a season that would at least bring in one major source of revenue, the TV broadcasting rights.

To do that, it is understood a total of 15 races must take place for the full fees to be paid, seven less than the original 22 scheduled for 2020 but still a healthy number.

It is for this reason F1 is willing to compromise with Grand Prix promoters to hold events behind closed doors because, even if the avenue of cash through hosting fees is lost, the TV money is better than nothing.

There are some questions over how financially viable even that approach might be, with race organisers looking for financial support.

Indeed, it is understood plans for at least two races at Silverstone in July are only possible because it is being bankrolled by F1 itself and most other races would likely follow suit.

Still, at a time when Liberty is trying everything to boost the 2020 calendar, through multiple races at one circuit and events on three or even more consecutive weekends, there does appear to be one option they are missing.

Currently, it seems they are limiting their scope to just those GP's that were on the original schedule.

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Of course, it makes sense that those races should get priority for new dates but it may also be reducing F1's options of reaching the 15 events needed and possibly skipping opportunities to make more revenue.

Already, circuits like Imola, Sepang and Portimao have voiced interest in hosting a Grand Prix if a deal can be made.

The latter, on Portugal's Algarve, has even already held a closed-door event just before the lockdown began and is confident they could host a safe F1 race when the track opens again in May.

Another circuit also offering to help is the only one that was dropped from the F1 calendar after last year, Hockenheim.

“We have been in regular contact with Formula 1 since the last race in 2019, i.e. before the Corona period," managing director Jorn Teske told AutoBild.

“The subject has indeed been raised. We all see that the F1 calendar is being messed up by the circumstances.

“If there is interest in F1 to drive in Hockenheim this summer, we would be ready to talk. It is, of course, necessary to ensure that all health conditions and financial feasibility are guaranteed.”

Germany is much better placed than most European countries to host F1 in the coming months and, provided proper measures were put in place, could even have a limited number of fans in the stadium section.

A closed-door race in Malaysia could replace Singapore, which is unlikely to want the hassle of putting up barriers around Marina Bay only to have people watching from their apartment balconies.

And Imola has already suggested an Italian double-header with Monza, which would be one more race without using the same venue twice.

So while some promoters dither, Liberty shouldn't be afraid to look around and see where else could put on a race because when it comes to recouping the losses made so far, every little helps.