LONDON — Formula One plans to start its stalled season with two races behind closed doors in Austria in July before more of the same at Britain’s Silverstone circuit, insiders said on Monday.

If they go ahead as planned, it will be a first for a sport that has yet to see a circuit host two races in a single season or any grand prix without paying spectators since the championship started in 1950.

The bigger challenge will likely be stringing together a championship of up to 18 races from continent to continent in a world still wrestling with the COVID-19 pandemic and mass fatalities.

“We still have to work out many issues like the procedures for the teams and our other partners to enter and operate in each country,” Formula One chairman and chief executive Chase Carey recognized on Monday.

“All of our plans are obviously subject to change as we still have many issues to address and all of us are subject to the unknowns of the virus,” Carey said.

Ten races have been postponed or cancelled so far and the 10 teams and commercial rights holders Liberty Media are understandably keen on getting it going with television money and sponsorship at stake. The target of 15–18 races, down from an original record 22, looks an ambitious one in the light of travel restrictions, government bans on mass gatherings and popular opinion.

Races in Azerbaijan, Spain, the Netherlands, Vietnam, China and Canada are among those hoping to be rescheduled with Bahrain and Abu Dhabi set to be paired at the end of the season in December.

Races in Hungary, Belgium, Italy, Texas, Mexico, Brazil, Russia, Japan and Singapore also remain in play.

Monday’s announcement, coming after the French Grand Prix followed Monaco in cancelling, at least provided some grounds for hope. — Reuters