F1 Today – 06/04/2020

F1 Today

Charles Leclerc wins debut eSports race

Charles Leclerc took victory in his maiden eSports Grand Prix in Sundays Australian Grand Prix scoring a Ferrari one-two with his brother Arthur.

In a field which included Alex Albon, Jenson Button and cricketer Ben Stokes, Leclerc outclassed them all as he shone in his online debut by converting his pole start into a comfortable victory around Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit.

The race was less chaotic than the opening race a fortnight ago in Bahrain, but still provided plenty of entertainment and wheel-to-wheel battles – while all five of the F1 drivers that took part in the race. McLaren’s Lando Norris failed to start due to technical problems.

Leclerc said “It was unbelievably hard. I’m sitting in a chair at home but I’m sweating like crazy. We always knew the driver who made the least mistakes would win as we’re all very close on pace. It’s obviously a very tough moment for everyone staying at home but we tried our best to entertain.”

Leclerc started from pole after Renault junior Christian Lundgaard was awarded a five-place grid penalty for a collision. Leclerc then built a comfortable lead on the open lap and then built a lead which remained throughout the race.

His bother Arthur had been on course to make a Ferrari one-two a collision on lap eight saw the younger Leclerc brother spin and drop to fourth, George Russell inherited third.

Red Bull’s Alexander Albon climbed to third on the opening lap before spinning of the exit of the high-speed Turns 11/12 down to fifteenth place.

He recovered to finish in eighth place ahead of popular streamer Jimmy Broadbent and 2020 F1 rookie Nicholas Latifi. 2009 F1 champion Jenson Button just missed out on a place in the top ten for McLaren eleventh place.

Round three sees the race move virtually Shanghai for the Chinese Virtual Grand Prix on 19th April

 

Coronavirus puts F1 in a “very fragile state”

McLaren CEO Zak Brown says that Formula One is in a “very fragile state” as a result of the Coronavirus crisis and needs big changes to survive. Speaking ahead of a strategy group meeting he warned that the future of the sport was under threat due to Coronavirus.

Teams are holding a meeting today to discuss cost-saving meeting today, with the outcome expected late in the evening. However, the teams are divided on the best

Speaking to BBC News, Brown said “This is potentially devastating to teams, and if [it is devastating] to enough teams – which doesn’t have to mean more than two – then very threatening to F1 as a whole.”

He believes £143m budget cap, scheduled to come into force in 2021, needs to be lowered significantly, or the sport risks a potential disaster.

Adding, “Could I see – through what is going on right now in the world if we don’t tackle this situation head-on very aggressively – two teams disappearing? Yeah. In fact, I could see four teams disappearing if this isn’t handled the right way.”

Brown says given the health and economic crisis the world is in, there would not be people lining up to take over teams which are struggling.

F1 and the teams have already agreed to a series of changes to lower costs because the sport faces a significant drop in revenues as a result of the cancellation of races.

These include delaying until 2022 a big rule change that had been planned to come into force in 2021, and forcing teams to run the same cars this year and next.

But the top three teams are opposing changes to lower the budget cap by another £50m. Brown’s idea is to lower the cap from £125m to a £81.5m, with the same exemptions as now, such as driver salaries.

This would serve to make the field more competitive by reducing the financial advantage of the big teams and give the smaller teams a better chance of achieving good results.

However, the bigger teams argue the budget cap was “secondary” and that “reducing the cost to go racing” was more important.

 

Dennis announces plans to feed NHS staff

Former McLaren boss Ron Dennis has announced a new initiative to help support frontline health workers in the UK during the current Coronavirus pandemic.

Dennis is heading up a new initiative called SalutetheNHS.org that will provide high-quality meals to NHS workers for the next three months. The meals will be made available free of charge to ICU teams, anaesthetic teams and A&E staff during their shifts when they are currently unable to leave their clinical areas under the current protocol to combat COVID-19.

The Dennis family has donated £1 million to the initiative, which also has support from companies including Tesco, Absolute Taste and Yodel. He told Motorsport.com, “This is a time when all of us, individuals and businesses alike, need to stand up and be counted in the effort to combat COVID-19. We’re all in this together.”

“I am delighted to be leading this initiative to help ensure that vital NHS workers have nutritious meals while they work every hour in this fight. It means they have one less thing to worry about.”

Dennis says it’s a huge logistical operation which they had to build in under a week, and has been impressed with what they have achieved. But added they still needed support and donations to keep the operation going.

CEO of British supermarket Tesco, Dave Lewis added, “Ensuring families have access to the shopping essentials they need, safely, has been our priority over the last few weeks, and so we’re pleased to now be able to help front line NHS workers by donating food and ingredients to provide them with one million meals through SalutetheNHS.org.”

The scheme stared deliver free meals from April 6 at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford before expanding the scheme to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London one week later. The hope

 

Varsha tests positive for COVID-19

Former American broadcaster for Speed Bob Varsha, better known for Formula E coverage, has tested positive for the coronavirus. The sixty-eight-year-old has been undergoing treatment for prostate cancer, he has been undergoing chemotherapy, which tends to wreck an individual’s immune system.

He posted on a GoFundMe page set up on his behalf by journalist Marshall Pruett back in early January, Varsha delivered the news of his coronavirus this morning.

He wrote, “After completing my final, and toughest, round of chemo weeks ago, the side effects never seemed to go away. Then one day my temperature spiked, so my oncologist leapt into action and got me a Coronavirus test.”

Varsha is better to know as part of the world feed team for Formula E, but due to his cancer has been away from the sport since the start of the 2019-20 season.

 

Williams & Racing Point furloughs staff as drivers take pay cuts

Williams and Racing Point have put some staff on furlough and given their drivers and senior management a pay cut as a result of the coronavirus crisis. Last week McLaren announced similar measure last week.

Williams drivers George Russell and Nicholas Latifi, and senior management, have taken a 20% pay cut from 1 April. In a statement, Williams said “a number of employees” would be out on enforced leave until the end of May “as part of wider cost-cutting measures”.

Adding, “These decisions have not been taken lightly, however, our aim is to protect the jobs of our staff at Grove and ensuring they can return to full-time work when the situation allows.”

Today a video meeting between Liberty and the teams are discussing was of safeguarding the sport, as it suffers a loss of income as a result of the absence of races.

 

Wolff dismisses speculation on his future

Mercedes F1 CEO and team principal Toto Wolff has dismissed rumours that he will have a formal role or ‘strategic’ stake in Aston Martin, even though he could make a personal financial investment in the British sportscar manufacturer.

Wolff’s future is going to be one of the biggest talking points when the driver and team personnel market begins in the summer, his contract with the six times champions is due to end at the end of 2020.

The Austrian has been linked to replacing Formula One CEO Chase Carey, with the move to Aston Martin being more recent. It is now understood while a personal financial investment in Aston Martin could be on the cards, he is clear that his focus is on sorting out a new deal to remain at Mercedes.

Speaking to Austrian daily newspaper Osterreich, Wolff said that the impact of the coronavirus pandemic had put a halt to talks with his bosses about his future. But, despite expressing some unease about unidentified developments in F1, he said that he was all set to stay where he is.

He said, “I’m in the eighth year now. I love sports and this team. However, I am somewhat surprised by the turn of events over the winter and by the behaviour of individual people.”

“Of course, this also has to do with my decision on what to do in 2020 and beyond. But I am and will remain the head of Mercedes Motorsport and F1 boss, and nothing will change in the short term.”

On the speculation on his future, he said that he was discussing with Mercedes about what they want to do together. However, Wolff says the current situation with Coronavirus, means that this has been pushed back.

“I’m not going to become CEO of Aston Martin, and I’m not going to make a strategic investment there either.”

Wolff is a good friend of Aston Martin’s executive chairman and Racing Point owner Lawrence Stroll and, although a personal financial investment in the company is possible, he is clear that there is no intention to do anything else.

Jack

Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.