Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo has given hope to Formula 1 fans by revealing to talkSPORT when the 2020 season could finally start.
However, the potential date would mean at least TWO more Grands Prix could be postponed to join the eight races already removed from the calendar.
The coronavirus pandemic led to the cancellation of the Australian GP – Ricciardo’s home race – on the eve of the season opener getting underway, while the historic Monaco GP soon went the same way.
Furthermore, events in Azerbaijan, Bahrain, China, the Netherlands, Spain and Vietnam have all been postponed with no new dates yet in place given there are no guarantees as to when the 2020 season will actually begin.
The first race remaining on the calendar is the Canadian GP, which is due to take place on June 14 in Montreal.
However, Ricciardo has exclusively told talkSPORT a July start date is being predicted which would mean the races in Canada and France (June 28) would also have to be rescheduled or cancelled.
“I’ve kept in contact with the team and we’re just trying to figure out what is going on,” said Ricciardo. “I’m also aware that no one really has a hold of this virus yet.
“We are predicting maybe July we will get going, but, really, who knows?”
The first race scheduled for July is in Austria on the fifth of the month, with the British GP due to take place 14 days later.
Despite predicting the season to begin in July, Ricciardo hopes to see no more races postponed with the campaign instead beginning in Canada, which is currently scheduled as round one on the 2020 calendar.
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Asked about which Grand Prix he would want as the opener after the coronavirus pandemic, Ricciardo replied: “I mean the fantasy answer is Melbourne – I’d love for it to get started at home – but knowing what I know for now, I don’t think Montreal has been cancelled yet and that is the next one on the list.
“I love Montreal as a city and a circuit; it’s one of my favourite Grands Prix.
“So if we could start there that would make my day.”
Ricciardo was, along with his fellow drivers, in Melbourne earlier this month for the season opening Aussie GP.
The event was due to go ahead as planned despite sports events being cancelled left, right, and centre across the globe, and it was eventually pulled in the wake of McLaren withdrawing from the race three days before it was due to begin after a member of their team tested positive for COVID-19
Ricciardo has provided a first-hand account of being directly involved in such a bizarre situation.
“It was weird being there, and even on Thursday I was preparing myself to compete that weekend,” he continued.
“But I was never certain it was going to happen; I knew there was a slight risk it could all get pulled last minute.
“The bombshell for me was really when I went to bed on Thursday night, and just before I went to sleep I saw McLaren had pulled out of the race, because of the case within their team.
“I then stayed up for probably another three hours trying to fish out a bit more information, but I knew then we weren’t going to race without a full grid.
“To be honest, I was no longer comfortable with it either; I was like, ‘look, this is the first race of the season, either we are all in it or we’re not, that’s just how it is’.
And how is the feeling in F1 right now with so much uncertainty over the sport and the 2020 season in particular?
The Renault ace finished: “From the teams’ point of view there is still the annoyance of when we will get going.
“What I’m seeing in the news is that most places have taken the measures they’ve need to – with lockdowns and not leaving your house – so I feel the sooner everyone starts to contain it that should be the right direction to finally say goodbye to this virus.
“That gives me confidence that sooner rather than later we will see it go off, but for now, from a point of view of the racing, I just want to get racing.
“Obviously Melbourne was a disappointment to not happen, but for sure I want to do it when people’s health is back where it should be. That is the priority.”