F1 Today – 17/03/2020

F1 Today

McLaren team member recovering well

McLaren says the team member who contracted coronavirus is “recovering well” and now showing no symptoms. The member of staff along with fourteen others remains in quarantine for the next fourteen days.

In an update to the media, McLaren chief executive Zak Brown and team principal Andreas Seidl provided the latest information and praised the workforce’s handling of the situation.

CEO Zak Brown said, “I’m happy to report that our team member affected with the virus is recovering well and the symptoms have gone and our people in quarantine are in good spirits.”

“The support they have been getting from their team-mates, our partners, members of the F1 community and fans from around the world has been fantastic and our thanks go out to all of them.” McLaren immediately withdrew from last weekends Australian Grand Prix after the positive test, leading to the race being cancelled.

Brown says that he is proud of how the team handled the situation, and they were focused, calm and professionwas outstanding across the team. We had leaders stepping up everywhere and that is testament to our people.

“We had been continually scenario-planning together with the team back in the UK, so we knew what our options were in the event of various outcomes. Andreas and I already agreed that if we had a positive case in the garage there was only one option.”

In the aftermath, Seidl remained in Melbourne to support staff who are in quarantine for fourteen days. Brown thanked the teams’ drivers Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris, who is now being kept away from the team but remain in contact.

He added, “We also appreciate our fellow teams in the paddock who offered immediate help on Friday to dismantle the garage and pack the freight.”


Pirelli staff member tests positive for Coronavirus

A member of Pirelli’s Formula One operation has tested positive for the coronavirus. It’s the second time a member of a Formula One team has tested positive after a McLaren employee led to the cancellation of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

Pirelli said the person is “following all the relevant procedures put in place by the health authorities”. They had “not had any contact with third parties that required anyone else to take special preventative measures”.

The manufacturer added, “closely monitoring the situation in line with public health policies and company guidelines”.

The first four races have been postponed, the next race should be the Dutch Grand Prix at the start of May.


Sainz ‘bored’ of quarantine

Carlos Sainz has admitted he is a ‘bit bored’ after putting himself into voluntary quarantine on his return from the Australian Grand Prix. The Spaniards McLaren team was at the centre of the outbreak of the virus which caused the cancellation of the race.

Fourteen members of the team were put into self-isolation in Melbourne, Sainz has joined other personnel in returning home before locking themselves away.

Speaking on Tuesday, Sainz said: “At the moment I feel perfectly fine, but as you are aware that doesn’t necessarily mean that I am not infected or that I can’t develop the symptoms going forward. For the sake of everybody, it is very important to be responsible and follow the guidelines of the experts.”

Further Tweets added, “It’s been a busy few days trying to organise my life since then. Obviously, I’m a bit bored. I mean, I guess everyone who’s doing this quarantine is a bit bored.”

“But at the same time I am trying to do some sport, I’m trying to keep myself busy and do the kind of things that I would never do because of so much travelling.”

Sainz also wanted to send a “big hug” to the McLaren team members still stuck in Australia and said he could not wait for the season to restart.

Ferrari suspends F1 operations

Ferrari has suspended all operations across its Formula One and road cars division till at least the 27th of March. The Italian manufacturer is based in Northern Italy which has the worst outbreak of the Coronavirus outside China.

A statement said, “The decision has been taken by the company for its employees’ well-being and follows a number of rigorous preventive measures already implemented by the company to guarantee the highest health standards in light of the Italian Government’s decree on COVID-19 issued on March 11, as well as previous decreed.”

“The company, that had ensured continued production so far whilst placing employees’ wellbeing as its main priority, is now experiencing the first serious supply chain issues, which no longer allow for continued production.”

However, the team say all design and development work will continue with staff working remotely. But a decision could be made in the coming days for teams to completely shut down.

We remain to committed bringing you the news as we get it but be prepared for the sport to go quite because of the Coronavirus. Please do follow the governments’ advice on Coronavirus found at gov.uk/coronavirus


Renault not ruling out Vettel

Renault says it hasn’t ruled out Sebastian Vettel as an option for 2021 if it loses Daniel Ricciardo, but suggests its preference would be to go for a youngster instead.

The team contract with Ricciardo ends at the end of 2020, he has already been linked to a move to Ferrari if Vettel leaves the team. Both Renault and Ricciardo are hoping that a performance uplift this season will be enough for them to extend their partnership, though, but nothing is set in stone.

Speaking to Canal+, Renault F1 managing director, Cyril Abiteboul was not dismissive of a swoop for Vettel but equally did not suggest it would be his priority.

Asked if the four-time champion was an option, Abiteboul said, “I don’t want to say no, as he is a great driver and a great champion. We worked together on the engine side and we won together.”

“I rather aspire to work with tomorrow’s drivers than yesterday’s. It really is very difficult to sum it up like that, so please don’t sum it up like that about Sebastian. Still, we also have a driver academy, with drivers who might come out of it in 2021 or 2022.”

Abiteboul says they need to acknowledge the talent they have in the academy. He made it clear that the main factor in deciding Ricciardo’s future would be the form of the Renault car, although the delay to the start of the season would mean a conclusion on that would have to wait.


Mercedes pulls its involvement in Ferrari complaint

Mercedes has pulled its involvement in the complaint made by the seven non-Ferrari powered teams about the FIA’s secret agreement with Ferrari over its 2019 engine, Motorsport.com has learned.

During testing the governing body announced it had reached a private settlement with Ferrari over suspicions its power unit was illegal, all the teams not affiliated with the Italian car manufacturer expressed their anger. These teams Mercedes, Red Bull, Alpha Tauri, McLaren, Renault, Williams and Racing Point.

The statement said, “We hereby state publicly our shared commitment to pursue full and proper disclosure in this matter, to ensure that our sport treats all competitors fairly and equally. We do so on behalf of the fans, the participants and the stakeholders of Formula One.”

They then sent a strongly worded letter to FIA the teams asked a series of questions about the reasons for the decision to call off the investigation into Ferrari.

The FIA’s stance was that in reaching a deal it avoided the potential for an expensive and damaging court case with Ferrari over the matter because it had no way of proving beyond all doubt that Ferrari had cheated.

Todt’s response expressed his own anger in a return letter at the outspoken remarks the teams had made, it was unclear how the situation was going to develop.

It is believed that a joint press conference between the seven teams was cancelled after the outbreak of the coronavirus. However, a ‘high-level’ source has told Motorsport.com, that Mercedes has elected to step away from the matter and will not remain a part of any action going forward.


Filling the void not the AusGP

Max Verstappen and Lando Norris did take part in the Australian Grand Prix after an eSports race was organised. The race took place online and was streamed to fans around the world.

Verstappen finished eleventh in an ‘All-star Esports battle’ with a cast of other real racing drivers and professional gamers.

McLaren’s Norris finished sixth in another virtual race, the ‘Not the Aus GP’ organised by Veloce Esports and shown live on Twitch.TV and YouTube.

The first race of the day was a twelve lap race around the Nurburgring won by Jernej Simoncic. McLarens Kevin Siggy was second with Rudy Van Buren, winner of the inaugural 2017 World’s Fastest Gamer competition and the prize of a simulator role with McLaren, finishing in third place.

Swedish IndyCar drivers Felix Rosenqvist and American Colton Herta were the highest-ranked real-world drivers in seventh and tenth places respectively.

Verstappen took pole in the heats, but qualified ninth for the final. But dropped to eighteenth in the final race following a spin. Others who took part in the heats included Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud and former F1 drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Rubens Barrichello, as well as their respective sons, and double Formula One esports champion Brendon Leigh.

Norris started nineteenth for the not the Australian Grand Prix, before showing consistency in the race to finish sixth. The race was won by Alfa Romeo’s Dani Bereznay.

The second round is due to take place this weekend, titled not the Bahrain Grand Prix. But, details are to be confirmed.


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.