Formula One officially announced Friday the cancellation of its F1 races in the United States (at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas), Canada, Mexico and Brazil this season.
In a statement, the series said the decision was “due to the fluid nature of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, local restrictions and the importance of keeping communities and our colleagues safe.”
Formula One CEO Chase Carey said the series would bring the races back to the schedule in 2021.
The U.S. round for F1 was scheduled for the Oct. 23-25 race weekend at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas. In a statement after the F1 cancellation, COTA chairman Bobby Epstein said advance ticket sales deposits for Austin were up nearly 250 percent after a 2019 sellout.
A statement regarding the 2020 F1 United States Grand Prix: pic.twitter.com/QnSXk6wLll
— Circuit of The Americas (@COTA) July 24, 2020
In a phone interview with the Associated Press, Epstein said “this isn’t about sports or economics of a business. This is about health and a pandemic and a global crisis. We’re not unique. We’re heavily reliant on international events.”
The Austin track has played host to F1 since 2012 and is under contract through 2021. Epstein wouldn’t comment on contract negotiations for a new deal, or if F1 would extend a year because of the cancellation.
Epstein said the Austin track instead to play host to the U.S. Grand Prix “for a long time. That is the intent. I don’t think we ever intended for this to be 10 (races) and done.”
The news comes on the heels of the July 8 announcement that COTA’s MotoGP event also was canceled, leaving the track with no major racing events for this year.
F1 also announced the addition of three new rounds this fall in Germany, Portugal and Italy, bringing the 2021 calendar to 13 races.
The demise of the North and South America races had been expected. Two weeks ago, McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown said it was unlikely the rounds would happen.
“We’d very much like to race at all those circuits,” Brown said. “Unfortunately, my opinion is it’s probably unlikely we’ll race at any of those venues this year. That’s obviously due to the COVID situation. … Let’s see what happens, but certainly it seems like the spikes in Texas are pretty severe and Brazil and Mexico and Canada a little less so. But if we miss them this year, we certainly look forward to going back to those venues next year.”