Austin F1 race in doubt, Japan remains optimistic of 2020 date

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As Formula 1 gears up to finally start the 2020 season in July, two races initially planned for October are facing uncertainty.

Under a schedule that is reportedly set to be announced early next month, plans for an eight-race European leg will see two races apiece in Austria and either Britain or Germany, with further events in Barcelona, Hungary, Spa and Monza.

From mid-September, F1 then hopes to move to Asia via stops in Baku and Sochi along the way, with the Japanese Grand Prix, the first Far East round on October 11.

However, race organisers at Suzuka recently stopped selling tickets due to the worsening coronavirus situation in the country, leading to uncertainty over whether it could be cancelled or held behind closed doors.

Currently, Japan has seen 16,385 cases of Covid-19 but has seen a sharp drop in the number of new cases, indicating the peak may have been reached.

And in a statement to though, they say they have "high expectations" the race can go ahead as planned with crowds in the grandstands.

Questions are also growing over the United States GP at Circuit of the Americas as well as the US sees by far the biggest global outbreak of the coronavirus.

While states are trying to re-open and the country held its first closed-door NASCAR race this past weekend, Austin's public health medical director Dr Mark Escott believes any thought of a normal large-scale event this year is highly unlikely.

“We are working on a plan to help forecast what we think is going to be reasonable," Escott wrote for the Austin American-Statesman.

"But looking through the end of December, we don’t have any indications at this stage that we would be able to mitigate risk enough to have large events, particularly ones [with] over 2,500 [spectators]."

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A closed-door race is one possibility, but would likely require F1 commercial rights holder Liberty Media to fit the bill, as the race is dependent on local government help.

What may offer some hope is the US GP is set to be pushed back until November, perhaps giving Texas a little longer for the situation to improve.

On a side note, another race currently not being mentioned is the Brazilian GP at Interlagos, but with case numbers spiralling in the South American nation, that too may well come under pressure in the coming months.