Start of F1 season pushed to mid-June by Azerbaijan postponement

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The Azerbaijan Grand Prix was postponed Monday because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, delaying the start of the Formula One season until the middle of June at the earliest.

The first eight races of the 2020 season either have been postponed or canceled because of the virus.

The race at the Baku City Circuit was scheduled for June 7 but has been called off after discussions between governing body FIA and the local government.

“This comes as a direct result of the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic and has been based entirely on the expert guidance provided to us by the relevant authorities,” organizers said in a statement.

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They said a new race date would be announced later in the season.

F1 races have been staged in Azerbaijan since 2017.

The season-opening Australian GP in Melbourne was called off only hours before racing was to start on March 13. The Bahrain GP, scheduled to start the following week without fans, and the inaugural Vietnam GP on April 5 were then quickly called off. The Chinese GP in Shanghai on April 19 had been postponed in February.

Last week, the iconic Monaco GP was among three races called off. While races in the Netherlands and Spain were postponed, the event in Monaco was scrapped for 2020.

The next race scheduled after Azerbaijan is in Canada on June 14 at the Circuit Gillies Villeneuve in Montreal.

F1’s midseason break also has been moved from August to March and April and extended from 14 to 21 consecutive days, to help with scheduling.

The season is scheduled to end with the Abu Dhabi GP on Nov. 29 but could be extended to accommodate some postponed races.

A total of eight races with 12 cars must be completed for the championship to be validated, FIA has said.

Travis Pastrana leads flag-to-flag in Nitro Rallycross as the series returns to America

Pastrana Nitro Rallycross
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Travis Pastrana waited until the final trip around ERX Motor Park to take his Joker Lap – a longer way around the course that all drivers must do at least once in a race – and came out cleanly to win his first Nitro Rallycross race of 2022. With this win, Pastrana is the third driver to visit Victory Lane in the first three rounds of the 2022-23 season.

“This is the closest to a motocross track,” Pastrana told Katie Osborne on Peacock. “Thank you so much for a beautiful facility. It’s been a rough start to the season and I’m so thankful to be back out here. We had a good run in the side-by-side and now for this. This is much needed.”

Another thing needed was the sense of improvement. And Pastrana earned that affirmation each time he completed a lap around the course.

“I get my lap times read out and they said ‘fastest time of the week,’ ‘fastest time of the week’ (each time around) ” Pastrana said. “This is really special. We’re a long way behind in the championship, but welcome to America.”

In a pre-race press conference, Pastrana said that as Nitro Rallycross heads back to America, it was time for an American to win and he made good on his promise. Pastrana took the early lead over Robin Larsson and let the back of his Subaru hang out, taking risks he might not otherwise take if not for his need to win.

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Larsson’s second-place finish completed a perfect sweep of the podium in three rounds. In fact, he has not yet finished worse than second after winning the opening round at Lydden Hill in the United Kingdom and finishing second at Strangnas in Sweeden.

Fraser McConnel rounded out the podium for his best result of the season. He finished fourth in each of the first two rounds.

Last year, Pastrana finished second in this race to Scott Speed before narrowly edging his teammate for the championship.

Andreas Bakkerud crashed in prelims, but rebounded to finish just off the block in fourth. Bakkerud won the second round ahead of his teammate Larsson.

Oliver Bennett completed the top five.

Minneapolis is the first of three rounds scheduled in the United States. Next on the schedule is Glen Helen, Calif. on Octo 30 and then Phoenix at Wild Horse Pass on November 12th. Nitro Rallycross will then head to Saudi Arabia in December to continue their 2022-23 season.