Formula 1’s hopes of staging the Dutch Grand Prix during the European summertime have suffered another setback after Holland extended a ban on public events until September 1.

Zandvoort’s return to the F1 calendar for the first time since 1985 was originally scheduled for May 3 but the race was postponed because of the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

Dutch GP organisers and F1 had hoped to rearrange the event for a slot in the summer months after teams agreed to bring forward the mandatory shutdown period to the spring to free up the traditional August break to potentially hold affected rounds.

But after rules aimed at helping to ease the spread of COVID-19 in the Netherlands were increased by the country’s prime minister Mark Rutte on Tuesday, the Dutch Grand Prix’s return was thrown into further doubt.

Under the extended measures, all major public events, including professional sports and music festivals, are prohibited until September 1.

"It's better to be cautious now than to have regrets later," Rutte said during a press conference. 

"I would love to say we could go a lot further. But that is very scary and dangerous. We see a little improvement in the data, but just imagine that we would relax some measures, causing the virus to peak again.

"That's something we all absolutely don't want."

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Netherlands now stands at 34,134 as of Tuesday, with 3,916 deaths. 

With the opening nine races of the 2020 F1 season already postponed or cancelled altogether, championship officials are scrambling to get a campaign off the ground as soon as it is safe to do so.

There are growing concerns over the financial strain placed on the 10 teams and the sport in general due to the lack of racing and the subsequent hit in revenue.

F1 hopes to get the 2020 season underway with a behind closed doors race in Austria in early July, followed by multiple races at Silverstone also staged without spectators. It is likely that all European rounds could take place with no fans in attendance.

The French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard is currently scheduled as the first unaffected race on June 28, but it is expected to be called off after the country extending its ban on mass public gatherings until mid-July.

 

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