Canadian GP ninth race to be postponed
The Canadian Grand Prix has become the ninth race to be postponed due to the Coronavirus, the race was due to take place on 12 – 14 June. The decision had to be made now because of the length of time required to set up the track.
The race is believed to be one of the priorities to be rescheduled at the earliest opportunity in the summer. This is likely to be before the end of September because of the climate, the last time the race was held in October it proved bitterly cold.
Canadian Grand Prix president Francois Dumontier said: “I am proud to see how such wonderful initiatives and technical advancements stemming from Formula One are being applied in a time of crisis.”
“At the moment it is crucial that all of our energies be put together to overcome Covid-19. We will welcome you with open arms at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve as soon as it is safe to do so.”
Currently, that means the next race is the French Grand Prix on 26 June, but the social distancing policies in place around much of the world make it uncertain when the season can finally get underway. Austria is also likely to be postponed as well.
The opening race is believed now to be the British Grand Prix, which would be the easiest race to organise as seven of the ten teams are based in the country. A decision on Silverstone is expected to be made by the end of the month.
They have also suggested they hold two races, probably the British and European Grands Prix, but the title of the second race is unknown. F1 is considering all options as it seeks to kick off the season, including holding races behind closed doors.
The sport has been taking major steps as it seeks to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus crisis, which significantly threatens F1’s three main income streams – race-hosting fees, broadcast rights and sponsorship.
Ferrari flexible with the calendar
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says the Italian manufacturer will be “flexible” so that the sport can fit in as many events as possible in 2020 – even if that includes double-race weekends.
The Coronavirus pandemic across the world has caused the first seven Grand Prix’s to either be cancelled or postponed due to the crisis. The hope is that fifteen races can go ahead, in a re-organised calendar.
Shortened weekends and those with races on both the Saturday and Sunday have both been mooted as options, with F1, the FIA and the 10 teams in regular discussions about when, and how, the season could be restarted.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Binotto says that Ferrari is prepared for any sort of championship or race weekend. He said, “We know from the sporting regulations that to have a World Championship you need at least eight races, but everyone is trying to look for more than that. I think what will be important for us is really to be flexible.”
He has confidence that Chase Carey and the teams can put together the best championship possible. Binotto says Ferrari is ready for whatever is needed, adding “It is important to be flexible and making sure we can have good races as well for the fans.”
Binotto did, however, admit that it is not yet clear when F1 will get back on track – although he is hopeful for an early-July start. He admitted “I think it is very difficult to answer [when the season will start]. No one can really know it.”
Shutdown extended until the end of April
The FIA has announced the teams have agreed to extend the ‘summer shutdown’ currently underway by two weeks until the end of April. However, this doesn’t affect operations to build ventilators to help the NHS and other health authorities in its fight against the Coronavirus.
Some teams have already started their shutdown which was initially for three weeks designed to free up more time in the summer for the postponed races to be organised. But following yesterday strategy group and commission meetings this will be extended to five weeks.
Several teams have already started their shutdowns, due to last three weeks, but this will now be extended to five weeks following a meeting between F1 officials on Monday.
“Following unanimous approval by the Formula 1 Strategy Group, Commission and all teams, the World Motor Sport Council has ratified by e-vote the decision to extend the Formula 1 shutdown period from 21 to 35 days, to be taken in March, April and/or May, for all competitors and Power Unit manufacturers,” statement from the FIA reads
All Formula One actives must stop, but repurposing manufacturing centres for manufacturing medical and deploying staff who are deemed ‘core workers’ in building ventilators are exempted.
The decision comes as several countries are implementing lockdown protocols, asking citizens to remain at home barring all essential travel or to purchase necessities.
Mercedes make CPAP designs freely available
Mercedes have announced that the CPAP machines that they have been developing to fight Coronavirus will be made freely available for other manufacturers to use.
The Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices are being developed by the Mercedes engine division with University College London as part of F1’s wider Project Pitlane, are being produced at a rate of up to 1,000 per day.
The world champions have repurposed their Brixworth engine plant to meet the demand, with machines normally used to produce F1 pistons and turbochargers being utilised for the CPAP development effort.
Managing director of the engine division, Andy Cowell told Sky Sports, “Since the project was announced, we have received an incredible number of enquiries about the CPAP device from around the world.”
“Making the design and manufacturing specifications openly available will allow companies around the world to produce these devices at speed and at scale to support the global response to Covid-19.”
The UCL-Ventura device, which has reduced oxygen consumption by up to 70 per cent compared to the original version, received regulatory approval last week and underwent patient evaluations at University College Hospital and sister hospitals in the London area.
Project Pitlane involves all seven of the UK based teams, Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren, Renault, Racing Point, Haas and Williams, who are working with the government to manufacture medical equipment.
the F1 teams, whose capability to develop and produce concepts at a rapid development rate is a key aspect of the sport, say they are ready to meet the national challenge.
Downforce & weight “ridiculous” – Vettel
Sebastian Vettel says that Formula One’s “ridiculous” the amount of downforce at the moment still cannot make up for the current generation of cars being too heavy.
The weight of the cars has increased in the turbo-hybrid era, the introduction of the halo brings the weight of the cars up to 746kg. While the huge power levels and car performance is helping smash all-time lap records, Vettel still thinks the weight needs to come down.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, “I think the cars are phenomenal in terms of downforce: and it’s ridiculous how much downforce we have and how fast and how quick the cars are in medium speed, high-speed corners.”
“But in low speed you can feel the weight. That’s something you know when you throw the car from one side to another in the chicane or hairpin.”
Vettel believes that the cars are too heavy, and that downforce could be cut but admits that’s its something which would probably see the same results in lap times.
The German believe that even without taking away some of the safety improvements in recent years it would be possible to get them close to the 600kg weight they had a decade ago. Saying “It’s the direction that happened because of the power unit and all the extra that comes with it. Obviously, some of it is safety measures which you don’t want to go back on, and it is right.”
Vettel’s ultimate goal would be to have manoeuvrability like in go-karts, saying “you don’t have so much power – but if you take the ratio, what surprises you most is the weight. It’s the fact that there’s so little weight you can manoeuvre the go-kart and be… in comparison very, very quick.”
Norris likes the idea of extra Silverstone race
Lando Norris says the idea of reversing Silverstone to add more events to the shortened 2020 Formula One calendar is a “great opportunity”, even if the alternate layout looks “tricky”.
Last week the circuit’s managing director Stuart Pringle told Sky Sports that the circuit was opened to running multiple races and that “nothing’s off the table” regarding different layouts if there was a chance to help F1 by adding events to the current schedule, which has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Norris tweeted his support in response to a story containing Pringle’s words and told Autosport that he “saw an onboard from someone who tried it in reverse and it looks quite tricky”.
He added, “So you’re going to Becketts, Maggotts [with the track] in reverse. But it looks tricky and different. I don’t know what and how it would play into the racing and stuff because you have quite a few high-speed corners, which lead on to the straights, rather than slow-speed corners.”
“So it might be a bit tricky to overtake or it may be easy – I’m not too sure. But it would be cool.” Norris admitted that it could be the fact that would mean more home races for him and McLaren.
When asked about the possibility of running more F1 tracks the other way around, Norris explained that some circuits are not designed to be used backwards because of safety.
Adding “I think then it’s possible and for some other tracks, they’ll be impossible. Some are designed to go one specific way, and therefore you can’t do all tracks in reverse.”