Aston Martin adds “pressure and expectation”
Racing Point’s owner Lawrence Stroll believes that the teams change of name to Aston Martin next season will bring “pressure and expectation”. The involvement of the sports car manufacturer was announced in January, but the formalities of his investment were only completed this week.
The renaming of Racing Point is at the heart of Aston’s future marketing strategy, Stroll believes that this is an opportunity for the Silverstone team to take a step forward. He told Motorsport.com, “The group of men and women at Silverstone are true racers and their determination and spirit is one of the main reasons I invested in the Formula One team.”
“After 30 years, they deserve this opportunity to represent this legendary brand. We are continuing to invest in the team to give everybody the resources required, and we will see the benefit of those efforts this year as Racing Point.”
Stroll believes that the Aston name adds more pressure and expectation but says they will need to be competitive from the start. He does not doubt that the team can rise to the challenge for what he described as incredibly exciting for the sport
Speaking about the restrictions the team is adapting to because of the Coronavirus but says there is no area of life or business that hasn’t been impacted by the pandemic.
He said, “we are all very frustrated not to be competing, but we all understand the bigger picture in this global fight and so we stay at home. The team is also supporting Project Pitlane to help accelerate the production of ventilators.”
Silverstone to decide on race by end of the month
Organisers of the British Grand Prix and Liberty Media have announced they will decide by the end of the month whether the race can go ahead as planned. Silverstone is among the next group under threat.
A joint statement said Silverstone and F1 were “in close dialogue” on the feasibility of going ahead on the original date. This weekend was meant to be the first Vietnamese Grand Prix which has been postponed due to the Coronavirus.
The British Grand Prix statement said: “We fully appreciate that other UK sporting events in July have taken decisions regarding their events, but it is important to highlight that their logistics and sporting arrangements differ from Silverstone’s.”
“Therefore, our timeline gives us until the end of April to make a final decision. The safety of our fans, colleagues and the F1 community will be our priority and we will continue to engage with the appropriate authorities.”
In the last three weeks, the Australian and Monaco Grand Prix’s have been cancelled, with Bahrain, Chinese, Vietnamese, Dutch, Spanish all being postponed. The hope is that the sport can re-organise as many as possible between late June, with the season due now to start in Canada on 12 – 14 June and probably the weekend of 11 – 13 December.
Canada is likely to join that list of postponed races as the global pandemic escalates, the races after that are France on 26 – 28 June, Austria on 03 – 05 July and then Britain on 17 – 19 July.
F1 chief executive Chase Carey has said he hopes to restart the season in the summer and hold somewhere between 15-18 races. There have been suggestions of a one-off super season, with a combined 2020-21 calendar with as many races as possible this year combining next years seventeen contracted races.
The other option is deferring races whose contracts expire this year, Austria, Brazil, China and Spain, by a year to allow them to re-negotiate when the crisis end.
Shutdown period could be extended
Formula One’s shutdown could be extended for many more weeks in an attempt to help keep costs under control while the start of the season is still uncertain.
The coronavirus has lead to the first eight races of the season being postponed or cancelled, although the first scheduled race in Canada on June 14 is far from certain to go ahead as planned. The delay has brought forward the shutdown to free up the August break to allow the postponed race to be slotted in.
The lengthy gap between seasons could cause headaches for the smaller teams because of the lack of racing and income, one option being considered is to extend the factory shutdowns.
Alfa Romeo team principal Fred Vasseur said such a move would be motivated on cost grounds, to try to help those outfits that may face struggles in the short term.
He told Motorsport.com, “We get the possibility to extend the shutdown. One of the decisions to reduce drastically the costs could be to extend the shutdown.”
Vasseur said there was no rush at the moment to decide what to do, with the current shutdown period running until the end of April and teams having to close for twenty-one consecutive days during this period. Most teams will return to work on either 14th or 20th April.
This means teams are not allowed to carry out any work to develop the cars or other functions except core business functions like communications. Vasseur added, “But all the technical staff are not able to work for the next three weeks, so that means until the middle of April.”
“I hope that in the middle of April we will have a better view on the situation for the rest of the year and that then we will be able to take decisions.”
Vasseur welcomed the project between teams and various governments to develop new ventilators to support the relief effort from the Coronavirus.
Saying “we have to work together to try to beat this thing, to save the season if it’s possible and to do as many races as is possible to do. It is not easy. Each day we have more news, new concerns. The most important is to be flexible and to work as a group. And it was not always the first asset of Formula 1!”
Williams slump not due to not buying parts
Williams says its recent poor form in Formula One cannot be put down to its decision not to buy non-listed parts from a front-running team such as Mercedes.
The British constructor finished bottom of the championship and endured its worst ever season in 2019 when it only scored a single point Midfield rivals such as Haas and, more recently, Racing Point have looked to boost their fortunes by taking customer parts from Ferrari and Mercedes respectively.
This year’s Racing Point car appears to be heavily based on last years Mercedes, prompting the RP20 to be dubbed a ‘pink Mercedes’. Deputy team principal Claire Williams says her team would not follow that approach, making clear her desire for the squad to remain as independent as possible.
She told Motorsport.com, “I’ve always been really clear on where Williams stands around being an independent constructor and how proud we are of that. We’re in this sport based on what we do,” Williams said.
“But when we get it wrong, that’s our fault. And when we get it right, we can take credit for that. So that is hugely important to who we are. We’ve been successful with the business model that we have in the recent past. We were very successful in 2014, ’15, ’16 and ’17.”
Williams says that it not having a pink Mercedes wasn’t the reason it wasn’t doing well.
Racing Point technical director Andrew Green said previously he was surprised more teams had not followed the approach of bringing in more listed parts.
While Williams said the likes of Racing Point were “entitled” to do so as it did not breach the regulations, the differing business models meant not every team needed to do so. She says that she has no intention to change the full manufacturing capabilities of Williams.
Norris more nervous with sim racing
Lando Norris says he often feels more nervous while sim racing than he does when driving a real-life Formula One car. The McLaren driver has been a prolific sim racer for several years and is engaging in several eSport events.
Norris took victory in the first Veloce Pro Series event co-produced by Motorsport Games last weekend against a field containing a mixture of professional racers and Esports stars.
Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Not The Vietnam Grand Prix, Norris told Autosport, “I get so nervous in sim racing for some reason, I get more nervous than I do in like an actual qualifying session. I don’t know if it’s because you don’t have the adrenaline of driving the actual car, so you kind of forget about the nerves.”
“In sim racing, you’re sat in the seat, it’s a bit more peaceful and quiet, and you’re literally just driving. You think about a few more things. I need to try and calm myself down as much as possible, I start shaking and getting all nervous, I always ruin my qualifying laps because I get so nervous.”
He agreed to shave his hair off after raising £9,684 for a coronavirus response fund after a Twitch Stream Aid event on Saturday alongside several musicians and celebrities to raise money for charity.
Norris believes that eSports during the break is not only entertaining fans but also helping to encourage them to stay at home and help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Adding, “You’re getting all these viewers clicking in, and most of them are likely to be at home. Even when you’re driving, they’re saying that we are making for entertainment, and they enjoy watching us race each other.”