Asian calendar unlikely until the end of June
Formula One CEO Chase Carey says that the calendar beyond the beginning of September is not likely to be announced before the end of June as it wants to avoid rushing decisions on the remaining Asian, Middle East and Americas legs.
The opening ten races were either cancelled or postponed due to the Coronavirus, on Tuesdays the first eight-race leg of the 2020 campaign on Tuesday morning. The season will start with back-to-back races at the Red Bull Ring in Austria in early July, kicking off a run of eight Grand Prix’s in just ten weeks.
Dates of races in Asia, the Americas or the Middle East are yet to be announced. Although Liberty Media remains confident of achieving its goal of an up to eighteen race season concluding in December, but Carey said there would be no rush to finalise the remainder of the calendar.
He told F1.com, “Our goal would be before the end of June to if not complete the rest of the calendar, is to have a handle on it. We know what we would like to try and do.”
“We have other options if some things don’t come together. We do expect there are races which are on the calendar which will probably still not occur. I think we certainly have options.”
Currently, races in Azerbaijan, Russia, Japan, Vietnam, China, the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi are all expected to take a place on the revised schedule. The Asian leg is expected in September and October.
A decision to cancel the Japanese MotoGP round at Motegi has led to doubts about the F1 race at Suzuka going ahead given the shared promoter, while teams have reportedly been told events in Singapore and Canada will not go ahead.
Carey says that is important to learn from the early races about the safe running of events before making firm commitments on the calendar. The announced races are expected to take place behind closed doors with reduced presence from teams, as well as a stringent testing programme for coronavirus.
F1 hopes fans to return when safe
Chase Carey has also said that he hopes that fans will be able to attend races in the autumn. The first eight races announced on Tuesday will all take place behind closed doors, he hopes that when the series moves to flyaway races outside Europe there will be scope to allow spectators into venues.
In the video interview, he said “Fans are incredibly important. In many ways, we compete for fans. So we’d love to have fans at these events. But I think we recognise the safety requirements and the risks that still exist, and we have to take steps towards that.”
“We’d like to have fans in all honesty as soon as we think we can do it in a safe way for everybody involved, the fans and all those involved in the sport.” Carey said however despite the plan this must only include fans when it is safe to do so.
Carey says that July will be the right time to restart the 2020 world championship, despite ongoing restrictions in many countries. Adding, “We really have it seems to me a real desire from a large proportion of the world that wants to get back to life as we knew it.”
Formula One will want the season to take place in front of fans, but this depends on various restrictions around the world.
Teams need reserve drivers in case of positive tests
Formula One CEO Chase Carey has called on teams to have their reserve drivers on standby in case a driver tests positive for Coronavirus saying that no positive tests will lead to cancellation of races.
Speaking to F1.com, Carey said, “We will have a procedure in place that finding an infection will not lead to a cancellation. If a driver has an infection, [teams have] reserve drivers available.”
He pointed to the “rigorous set of guidelines” of some 80-90 pages detailing the processes for travel, hotels, meals, track behaviour and testing. Teams will operate in ‘bubbles’ with social distancing in non-critical areas such as the paddock.
It is expected the 1,200 people will attend with 800 team members, compared to the normal 1,300 people just for the teams.
Carey said he hoped to finalise the rest of the calendar by the end of June and recognised there were some races currently included which might not happen, but the sport had other options.
Team battle going to be “Fierce”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes the battle between teams will be just as “fierce’ as ever when the season finally begins in July, despite the unique circumstances of closed-door events.
With F1 having given the green light for the 2020 campaign to finally get underway with two events at the Red Bull Ring in July, teams are now gearing up for racing to start going again after extended factory shutdowns.
The strict measures designed to minimise the risk of coronavirus transmission, Grands Prix will be a step into the unknown. Despite this Horner believes once the racing begins the competitiveness between teams and drivers will be just as intense as ever.
Asked about his predictions for the first races back, Horner told Motorsport.com, “I think it is going to be different, it is going to be very different about. But when the lights go out, it’s all about what happens on track, and you get so immersed in what you’re doing.”
“The surroundings might be a little different, but I think the competition is going to be just as fierce and everybody’s going to be focused on what’s going on on track.”
Red Bull is also organising the opening races in Austria, Horner says the Red Bull Ring has worked very hard to get the calendar underway. They believe their plan can be used as blueprint going forward as a blueprint for other races.
Looking at the teams perspective he added, “I think we have got a good car this year and it’s a shame we didn’t get to see that in Australia. But the whole team is very motivated and it’s going to be a different season. We are well equipped and well dressed to deal with that.”
DAS was a surprised when it worked
Mercedes technical director James Allison believes that the FIA didn’t think that the team could make its dual-axis steering system operational and fully legal after the governing body rejected its original idea.
During Barcelona testing, DAS caused a stir when TV images showed the drivers moving the W11’s steering wheel back and forth, and the front wheels responding. Rival teams questioned the legality of the system, but the FIA confirmed that the system had been assessed and approved.
Allison said that the team planned to run DAS in 2019 using a lever system on the steering wheel, but the FIA turned down that arrangement and suggested that the whole wheel would have to move.
Asked by a fan about how hard it was to make the system work, Allison said that the FIA hadn’t expected the team to succeed. he explained in a Mercedes video, “The simple answer is it was really quite difficult indeed and in fact we first wanted to introduce this in 2019. We took our ideas to the FIA, showed them, explained why we thought it was legal.”
“They begrudgingly agreed that dual-axis steering was actually legal. But they didn’t much like the way we’d done it, because the second axis we were getting from a lever on the wheel, rather than that whole wheel movement.”
Allison says the team was confident that it was still worth devoting resources to solving the problem. Saying the chief designer, John Owen, and he took one look at that challenge, who decided it was doable
Adding “That’s a really helpful characteristic, because it allows us to be quite brave spending money when most people would feel the outcome was quite uncertain. John has a good feel for whether he’s going to be able to get out of the woods, and into fairground again.”
Hamilton’s rage as Floyd protests continue
Lewis Hamilton has once again expressed his thoughts following clashes between the police and peaceful anti-racism protestors in America, and says that he has been “overcome with rage”.
The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25 has put a renewed focus on racial injustice, and there have been protests and violent clashes with the authorities in many major US cities. On Tuesday, Tens of thousands of people have demonstrated, mainly peacefully, across the country also causing concerns about a second wave of Coronavirus.
Over the weekend, Hamilton challenged his fellow drivers and motorsport not to stay silent on the issue of racism, which prompted positive responses from many fellow drivers and his own Mercedes team.
In a new post on Tuesday, he described how emotional this week has been for him and expressed his frustration that it took a public outcry before Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was arrested and charged with Floyd’s murder.
He said, “This past week has been so dark, I have failed to keep hold of my emotions. I have felt so much anger, sadness and disbelief in what my eyes have seen.”
“I am completely overcome with rage at the sight of such blatant disregard for the lives of our people. The injustice that we are seeing our brothers and sisters face all over the world time and time again is disgusting, and MUST stop.”
Hamilton says that those who are BAME see it every day, and should not feel guilty, don’t belong or fear for our lives based on the colour of our skin. Adding that by resulting to rioting means it’s too late and not enough has been done.
“It took hundreds of thousands of people’s complaints and buildings to burn before officials reacted and decided to arrest Derek Chauvin for murder, and that is sad.”
Mercedes describes a reverse grid as ‘gimmick’
Mercedes F1 CEO and team principal Toto Wolff has explained the reasons why his team blocked a move to trial reverse grid qualifying races this year, insisting the sport doesn’t need ‘gimmicks’ to make things exciting.
At last weeks meeting of team principals the idea of running
reverse grid qualifying sprints at the second of double header events this year as a way of making the repeat events more exciting. Despite the backing of most teams, Mercedes vetoed the move.
Any ‘in-season’ changes require unanimous support to get the rules to change, the momentum behind the plan has fallen away and the standard format will be used for the entire season.
Speaking on Wednesday during a video teleconference call, Wolff made clear that there were three clear reasons why Mercedes was not willing to accept the reverse grid experiment.
He told the media, “It seems to be a common pattern in Formula 1 that we’re digging out old ideas that have been analysed previously and rejected.”
“Then somebody thinks it’s great and it’s back on the back on the agenda. So you need to look at the reasons why we were against it, and there’s three fundamental reasons.
“First, I believe that F1 is a meritocracy. Best man in best machine wins. We don’t need a gimmick to turn the field around to create more exciting racing.”
“Number two, I know it from touring car racing that strategies become a very useful tool when one race result is basically making the grid for the next one.”
He says it could create a situation where a team who are front runners could be caught in the midfield, risking the chance of a DNF which could influence the championship.
Wolff added, “from a pure performance standpoint, whoever the fastest car may be, and it’s not necessarily us, will be penalised [compared to the] second and third quickest teams, because they will simply start in front.”