Virtual Bahrain GP to go-ahead
Formula One has announced the Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead as a virtual race this weekend, following the postponement of the race. The race will be run at half distance and feature a number of the current drivers, in a bid to entertain fans while real racing has stopped.
The race will which will feature current F1 stars plus other guests, will take place on the same days when the real Grand Prix’s were due to happen. It’s expected to the first race in place of the postponed races due to the coronavirus. The events will be broadcast on F1’s official YouTube channel.
Julian Tan, Head of F1’s Digital Business Initiatives and Esports said: “We are very pleased to be able to bring some light relief in the form of the F1 Esports Virtual GP, in these unpredictable times, as we hope to entertain fans missing the regular sporting action.”
“With every major sports league in the world unable to compete, it is a great time to highlight the benefits of Esports and the incredible skill that’s on show.”
The series will be run on the PC version of the official F1 2019 game, and the first race will be a 50% race distance around the Sakhir track.
Due to the varying levels of skills between regular players and F1 drivers, there will be fixed setups and equal car performance – plus reduced vehicle damage. Anti-lock brakes and traction control will also be an option for those who want it.
Alternative venues will be found for Hanoi and Zandvoort, as they were not part of the game.
Coronavirus – Teams in talks to help NHS
Formula One teams are working with governments to help the fight against the coronavirus. The global pandemic has stretched healthcare systems across the world to breaking point.
Several F1 teams have applied-technology divisions as part of their operations and are looking at ways to aid the recovery process at a local level. Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren and Williams are in discussions with the NHS about how it could supply the NHS with ventilators.
Meanwhile, Ferrari is discussions with the Italian government about similar measures.
Dutch GP could be cancelled – Lammers
Organisers of the Dutch Grand Prix has admitted that the race may have to be cancelled and make its return to the calendar next year due to the coronavirus.
On Thursday, Liberty Media announced that the Dutch, Spanish and Monaco events had all been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak. While later the Monacan organisers announced the race had been cancelled due to the difficulties in putting on the race.
Zandvoort is believed to be high on the list to be rescheduled, with the 21 – 23 August as the suggested date due to close proximity to Spa. The summer break has been cancelled and moved to April. The race has long been sold out, and given the huge expense involved in rebuilding the seaside circuit, there is clearly some pressure to get it run this year.
But Lammers acknowledged that ultimately the race might have to be cancelled. he told Motorsport.com, “We’ve accepted the fact that it might be one of the consequences. There are countries where the virus hasn’t even entered. Where are we on the graph of the peak?”
“In China, it’s getting back in control, but in which stage are we at the moment? It’s something that we’d like to think we’re in control of, but we’re not, it’s the virus that has us all in its grip.”
However, he stressed that the bigger picture was more important and that the virus has everyone in control. Lammers says the thing is to try and limit the impact on the cash flow because of the crisis, which has basically zero.
He says that there are more important thing is the current situation, which means it would be wrong to hold the race. Adding, “From our point of view it’s something that we could see coming, of course. The most important news is ‘OK, not May 3rd.’ The big question now is, ‘When will it be then?’”
Asked about the prospect of an August date, Lammers conceded that it might not prove viable if the health situation does not improve. “We would be over the moon if by July we can say the country and the world is free of the virus, but how realistic is that?”
“Right now we just have to be ready for all kinds of scenarios, and even as a fan you’d be better off wondering if postponing it for a year wouldn’t be better.” He said at the moment people are dying every hour and not having a grand Prix was just an inconvenience.
Racing resumes “as soon as possible” – Carey
Formula One CEO Chase Carey says he is committed to starting the season “as soon as possible,” and confirmed that the teams won’t have to formally approve any changes as attempts are made to fit postponed races into the schedule.
The calendar was one of the topics discussed on Thursday during the strategy group phone call, where the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic were discussed. Carey says not requiring formal approval by the teams will give F1 and the FIA extra flexibility when revising the calendar.
As we reported yesterday the calendar was one of the main subjects on the agenda in a phone conference today involving Carey, FIA president Jean Todt, Ross Brawn (F1’s managing director of motorsports) and all 10 team bosses, during which the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic were discussed. Carey says not requiring formal approval by the teams will give F1 and the FIA extra flexibility when revising the calendar.
The other key outcome was the decision to postpone the introduction of the 2021 technical regulations until 2022, which will now go through a formal process.
In a statement, Carey explained, “At the meeting, there was full support for the plans to reschedule as many of the postponed races as possible as soon as it is safe to do so. Formula 1 and the FIA will now work to finalise a revised 2020 calendar and will consult with the teams, but as agreed at the meeting the revised calendar will not require their formal approval.
“This will give us the necessary flexibility to agree revised timings with affected race promoters and to be ready to start racing at the right moment.”
Regarding the postponement of the 2021 regulations, he added: “Due to the currently volatile financial situation this has created, it has been agreed that teams will use their 2020 chassis for 2021, with the potential freezing of further components to be discussed in due course.
Hamilton was going to be a “massive problem” – De la Rosa
Pedro de la Rosa says that he knew after two runs in testing that Lewis Hamilton was going to be a “massive problem”. The six-times champion was handed his first run in an official test by McLaren in September 2006, just days after his title-winning GP2 Series campaign had finished.
That test ended the Spaniard’s hopes of retaining his seat for 2007. Reflecting now on the events, de la Rosa said that his views on Hamilton changed totally on the second run that the now six-time champion did.
Speaking to Beyond The Grid, he said, “That’s when my mind changed. we had two cars, we were testing there, [and] it was his first-ever Formula One experience. He did a run, and he was nowhere, you know.”
“I remember looking at his data with Philip Prew, my race engineer back then. We were looking and Philip told me: ‘The boy will need to improve a lot over the years…it’s a long road for Lewis, but he will be good, but we just have to give him time, blah, blah’.”
He says that when he says the data from the Maggots and Becketts showed than Hamilton had potential. De la Rosa said that it soon became clear that Hamilton would be chosen to line up alongside Fernando Alonso in 2007, but he says he felt no bitterness about what happened.
De la Rosa says having watched many drivers test over the years and when he saw Hamilton, he thought “this guy is very, very fast.”
He says it was an honour to watch and was happy to hand over the car to Hamilton.