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Formula 1: Hungarian Grand Prix to be held without fans

Britain’s Lewis Hamilton won the 2019 Hungarian Grand Prix

Hungarian Grand Prix organisers have said the race will have to be held without spectators this year as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

The country’s government announced on Thursday a ban on all gatherings of more than 500 people until 15 August.

Organisers said they had “pursued all possible ways” to stage the event with fans but this was “no longer possible”.

They added: “It is now evident that any F1 race in Hungary can now only be held behind closed doors.”

The statement said that holding a race without spectators was “not an ideal scenario [but] we do believe that staging the event behind closed doors – which our fans can still watch on television – is preferable to not having a race at all.

“Furthermore, it will also ensure that a global audience of millions can still watch the race taking place in Hungary via F1’s vast international broadcast coverage. As such, we are continuing our working with F1 to try and find a way to make this possible.”

A race at the Hungaroring is part of Formula 1’s plans to revive the 2020 championship this summer, once conditions in enough countries allow.

The race was originally scheduled for 2 August, but the F1 calendar has been almost completely ripped up, and published dates effectively irrelevant, as the sport’s bosses seek to re-shape the season and fit in enough races for a legitimate championship.

Hamilton has won in Hungary a staggering seven times – more than any other driver

Insiders have told BBC Sport that Hungarian organisers are confident their race will be able to go ahead at a date later in the summer.

Organisers believe the grand prix could run as a closed event and be allowed more than 500 people as without spectators it would be classed as a broadcast operation not an event.

And the date they are working on with F1 is after the current restrictions end.

Hungary has become the second race to announce that it will be held without fans, after Silverstone.

F1 bosses are planning for a season to start with two races at Austria’s Red Bull Ring on 5 and 12 July, followed by two at Silverstone on 19 and 26 July.

There would then be a week off before further races in Europe.

Hopes of holding a race in France, despite the cancellation of the official French Grand Prix earlier this week, were apparently dashed when the country banned all sporting events, even those behind closed doors, until the end of August.

But Spain and Italy are among the European countries other than Hungary that could host races, before F1 heads off to Russia, Azerbaijan, Asia, the Americas and the Middle East, as long as the virus situation in those areas allows at the time.

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