Formula One teams have voted to shut down for the next month and amend the sporting regulations to extend the break from two to four weeks admit the coronavirus pandemic.
The summer break is used to ensure the whole of the paddock gets a two week holiday in August. This follows a dramatic week which has seen most of global sport grind to a halt as well as other businesses. The teams have therefore agreed to bring forward and extend the summer shutdown to get it out of the way early.
A statement issued by the FIA said: “In light of the global impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus currently affecting the organisation of FIA Formula One World Championship events, the World Motor Sport Council has approved a change to the 2020 FIA Formula 1 Sporting Regulations, moving the summer shutdown period from July and August to March and April and extending it from 14 to 21 days.”
“All competitors must, therefore, observe a shutdown period of 21 consecutive days during the months of March and/or April. The change was supported unanimously by both the F1 Strategy Group and F1 Commission.”
On Tuesday Ferrari announced it was suspending all operations as it based in Northern Italy. Its been one of the most dramatic weeks in the history of the sport and the first time the sport has faced a challenge this big beyond its own control.
The first four races in Australia, Bahrain, Vietnam and China have all been postponed, and the three next events in the Netherlands, Spain and Monaco are expected to follow in the coming days. The current plan is for the season is to start in Baku on the 07th of June.
In another development, the teams are looking to postpone the introduction of the 2021 regulations. Only Ferrari abstained, meaning for now the change won’t happen, but that amendment could be brought back in the coming days.
All changes to the regulations for this season now require the unanimous support of all F1 teams.
Within 30 minutes of the news being confirmed, Red Bull announced its plans for the new shutdown.
The amendment is designed to keep costs under control at a time when teams are facing reduced revenue as a result of the expected lower number of races.
A further meeting is scheduled for Thursday to discuss the matter again.
A statement from Red Bull said, “As a team we currently plan to shut down on 27th March for a three week period, however due to the ever-changing nature of the pandemic there may be some flexibility around these dates.”
“Whilst we would all love to return to racing, the severity of this global pandemic is changing by the hour and the impact transcends our sport.”
The Dutch Grand Prix is likely to be moved to August, the Spanish Grand Prix is expected to be cancelled as its only contracted for one year.
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