The 2020 Macau Grand Prix will be held between November 19 and 22 in an atypical edition with no F3 championship, reduced public and budget, no title sponsor, plus possible quarantines imposed on pilots, the organising committee revealed today (Friday).
It will be the first time since 1982 an F3 competition will not be present in the Macau Grand Prix line-up, with the FIA Formula 3 Championship replaced by an F4 Macau Grand Prix competition, the first-ever to be included in the local motorsports event.
“We are aware that this is a unique year due to the unpredictability caused by the pandemic […] worldwide and excluding F1 many other modalities suffered changes, with many competitions cancelled. The organising committee together with FIA and health authorities conducted joint efforts to organise a Macau Grand Prix edition that we are sure will be a success,” the Sports Bureau President, Pun Weng Kun, stated today.
Most of the drivers to take part in the F4 event would be professionals currently racing in F4 competitions in Mainland China, but Pun noted that local drivers who meet the necessary requirements would be able to compete too.
Formula 4 events are considered a step for young drivers between karting and F3 competitions.
According to Pun, overall about 200 drivers have already shown to be interested in taking part in this year’s GP, more than the 160 who competed last year, but no confirmations could be provided at the moment.
The increase in interest was said to be related to the high number of racing events that were cancelled this year due to the pandemic, which turned the Macau GP into one of the only international championships events available this year.
Due to current pandemic prevention measures enforced by Macau SAR authorities, pilots and their race teams would be mandated to complete a 14-day quarantine before the competition, however, Pun noted policies could change as the pandemic progresses.
“Despite the quarantine requirement, most drivers showed they wanted to compete but we will only know their final decision later […] we have contingency plans for any eventuality,” the ID President added.
When questioned if a whole racing team could be removed from the competition in case one of its members tested positive for Covid-19 while in quarantine, Pun stated this was a possibility but it would depend on an assessment made by health authorities at the time.
The 67th edition of the GP will include six main events: the Formula 4 Macau Grand Prix, GT Cup, Guia Race, Motorcycle Grand Prix 54th edition, Macau Touring Car Cup and the Greater Bay Area GT Cup.
Riders for this year’s Motorcycle Grand Prix 54th edition will be invited to compete based in their race results in past year’s GP edition since the European counterparts were unable to organise races this year for the selection of drivers.
The Macau GT Cup will feature GT3 and GT4 race cars, with drivers selected from China GT Championship and Asia Pacific GT to compete with local drivers,
Ther Macau Guia Race will run int he TCR format, featuring selected drivers form TCR Asia Series and Asia pacific Touring Cars 2.0T races as well as local drivers, while the Macau Touring Car Cup will continue last year’s format with the two classes of race cars ‘1600cc Turbo’ and ‘Above 1950cc’ competing.
This year’s Macau GP budget was reduced by MOP20 million to MOP250 million, with Pun indicating that expenses would be lower although he pandemic had made preparations for the event more complex.
The number of people allowed per stand will be reduced to adhere to social distancing regulations and tickets will be on sale from September 21 with prices remaining unchanged from last year despite the circumstances.
The ID President revealed that although the GP organizing committee received proposals from the usual corporate sponsors, due to the changes made to the event, the organisation this year decided to not have title sponsors and cancelled the usual public tender.
Barrier gates at the entrances of junctions and buildings near the circuit will be increased to 156 to ensure that public roads can be reopened as soon as possible after the end of each day’s races.
Somer 17 ticketing counters were set up in Macau, Hong Kong, Mainland China, with alternative ticketing channels included online and in the GPO’s mobile application.
This year electronic gates and wristbands will be used for spectator control at Lisboa Stand and Reservoir Stand.
Today the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) Director, Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, also revealed that travel restrictions connected to the pandemic have led to a delay in the opening of the expanded new Grand Prix Museum.
According to Fernandes currently, IT experts from Hong Kong are currently unable to come to the city to prepare the multimedia attractions in the museum while some wax figures are also not able to be transported from the United Kingdom.
The museum is expected to re-open by the end of the year but most likely not on time for the Macau GP event.
The original museum has been closed to the public since July 1, 2017.
The museum re-development project included an expansion four of the five storeys of the Tourism Activity Centre with the underground floor, where the Grand Prix and Wine Museum were previously located, to become an entertainment and leisure area with simulators, multimedia, video-mapping, cinema and other offerings.
The initial estimated cost of works to expand the Tourism Activity Centre in order to accommodate the new Grand Prix Museum pointed to MOP328 million but the budget was later increased to MOP832 million, due to planned high-tech multimedia attractions.