Organisers of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix has set a cut-off point for the 2020 Grand Prix at mid-October but are hopeful that the race can go ahead around September.
Azerbaijan was one of the ten events forced to make changes to its original date in June due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic but was confident that the race could be postponed to further in the year.
The race in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku has been on the calendar since 2016 and has been held every year in June, with the exception of 2018's race, which took place in April.
Arif Rahimov, executive director of the Baku City Circuit, confirmed that the circuit staff were in close contact with F1 about the event and that the protection of fans and visitors at the event was the organisers' top priority.
“We are in close contact with the Government of Azerbaijan, F1 and other stakeholders,” Rahimov told MotorsportWeek.
“At this moment in time, while we are keen to host a race in 2020, we obviously can’t commit to running the race later in the year until the situation with COVID-19 becomes clearer and the world returns back to close to how we remember it prior to the pandemic.
“We have agreed with F1 that the race should not be postponed until after mid-October.
“We truly care about our fans and value their experience so we would want them to be able to enjoy amazing weather in Baku during the race weekend.”
Rahimov explained that the process in setting up the track can take almost four months, but explained that he believes in the current situation, it could be possible to get the circuit ready in slightly less time.
Rahimov also noted the desire to run the event before schools resume teaching in Baku, which is set for September 15th, hoping to avoid any problems that the track construction may contribute to.
“Usually we programme our construction activities to start 13-14 weeks prior to the race weekend,” Rahimov commented.
“In the current situation, however, we could try to reduce this to 11-12 weeks, which would involve a more intensive construction schedule.
“If we were in a position to hold the race in a period between early/mid-September to mid-October, then I would be very positive that we can achieve this target, given the fact that most of the construction work would be completed in the summer [during the best weather].
“The fact that we are running the race on the streets of the city adds to the complication – as it does to any street circuit. As such, it would ideally be great to try to run the race before the schools restart after the summer break on September 15th.”
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