By JEROME PUGMIRE
AP Auto Racing Writer
Renault driver Esteban Ocon of France steers his car during the first practice session for the Styrian Formula One Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring racetrack in Spielberg, Austria, Friday, July 10, 2020. The Styrian F1 Grand Prix will be held on Sunday.
SPIELBERG, Austria (AP) — The first Tuscan Grand Prix in Mugello will be held on Sept. 13, and the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi two weeks later could be the first Formula One race this season with fans.
The F1 season started last weekend in Austria with no fans at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg because of the coronavirus pandemic. But Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko said he hopes spectators can attend can attend the race in Sochi later this year.
“Russia is ready to receive the Formula 1 teams and spectators. The government will provide all the assistance required during the preparation and delivery of the competition," Chernyshenko said Friday. "It will be an important event for Russian sport.”
It was not immediately clear how many fans Russian authorities hope to allow inside the 55,000-capacity Sochi Autodrom.
“This will be an incredible festival for the widest audience possible," said Alexey Titov, the CEO of state-backed race promoter Rosgonki. "We are confident that the difficulties of this year will not become a special obstacle for motorsport fans. We are meticulously preparing to receive spectators safely and looking forward to seeing everyone.”
Both races were added to the calendar by F1 organizers on Friday, taking the number of scheduled races so far this season to 10 — all of them in Europe.
“Everybody has done an extraordinary job to bring back racing. To hear that more races have been put on the calendar is great news,” Williams team principal Claire Williams said. “Mugello is an unknown. We used to go testing there many, many moons ago. It will give the engineers a test.”
It will be the first time since 2006 that two races will be held in Italy.
F1 still hopes to have 15-18 races and to finish the season in December with races in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.
“We had great start to our season in Austria last weekend and we are increasingly confident in our plans to race throughout the remainder of 2020,” F1 chairman Chase Carey said. “We are equally excited to see Formula 1 race for the first time at Mugello, an occasion that will mark Ferrari’s 1000th Grand Prix.”
Mugello is about 32 kilometers (20 miles) from Florence. It has never staged an F1 race but has hosted F2 and MotoGP races, as well as previously being a Ferrari test track.
Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel did a test drive there last month.
AP Sports Writer James Ellingworth in Düsseldorf, Germany, contributed to this report.
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