Hamilton denies rumours of Ferrari move
Lewis Hamilton has once again denied rumours that he could move from Mercedes to Ferrari, insisting he is “not trying to move” to F1’s most famous and successful team as he is already with his “dream team” in Mercedes.
Although the six-times champion spoke up the possibility of a move to Ferrari last year, in recent months he has made it clear that he intends to sign a new contract beyond 2020 with Mercedes, the team he was won five of his six titles with.
The comments were made after The Sun newspaper claimed that the ‘dream’ move to Ferrari had been ‘dashed’ due to Sebastian Vettel’s plans to stay.
But in a social media post which has since been deleted, Hamilton wrote: “First off, there is no dream of a dash to another team. I am with my dream team. Second, there’s not a thing in my way as I’m not trying to move. I’m with the people who have cared from day 1. We are the best team! @mercedesamgf1.”
Both Hamilton’s and Vettel’s contracts expire at the end of the season, but both are expected to remain with Mercedes and Ferrari, respectively. Last week, the German was linked to a swap with Hamilton but both have dismissed this and are likely to stay with there current teams.
Vettel told Sky Sports, “Whatever the deal will be, it will be whatever I and the team are comfortable with, so in terms of duration I don’t know.
Haas “here to stay” in F1 – Steiner
Haas team principal Gunther Steiner has told Sky’s F1 Vodcast he believes the team is “here to stay”, despite fears about finances and Gene Haas’ recent admission the project may not continue long-term.
Steiner, the Haas team boss who has become somewhat of an internet sensation since the release of F1’s Netflix series, covered several light-hearted topics during his appearance on the latest Vodcast he was also asked about his team’s future in the sport.
Mr Haas had said earlier in the year that a poor 2020 season could decide the future of the team. The lack of racing due to the Coronavirus which has seen the first nine races postponed will not have likely changed that view.
Speaking On At Home with Sky F1, Steiner said, “I think we are here to stay. For sure we have to see out this scenario but if we can get in what the plan is now [18 races], we are good for the year.”
“I’m in touch with Gene almost every day, he wants to be involved with what is happening, and he seems to be in a good place. We just need to be diligent. The budget cap, all this brings the teams together and being competitive will help. So I think we are here to stay.”
Steiner gave an insight into the meetings between the teams, FIA and Liberty, he says there are about twenty-five people.
But while Steiner said the discussions are “pretty good” and “well-behaved” he would not deny private messages are exchanged when team bosses do not agree with what is said during the virtual meetings.
Saying, “They’re not malicious or anything, they’re just a bit of a joke! But we sometimes do that when we are physically at the meeting! I think we are all grown-up children.
Austrian GP organisers proposes a closed-door race
Organisers of the Austrian Grand Prix chiefs believe an isolation plan to keep F1 team personnel away from the local community will help boost chances of the race going ahead.
The race is likely to be the opening race of the season, although currently the French Grand Prix is scheduled as the season opener it is likely to be postponed after the country’s government announced a ban on mass gatherings until the end of August.
Therefore the discussions have focused on getting Austria to host up to two Grand Prix’s in June/July. Talks on the event with local authorities are being led by Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko, who says that special measures are being considered.
The plan is for a ban on spectators, guests and the media attending the race. Also, for the reducing team personnel to the minimum possible, as low as forty-five for each team, and ensuring that the F1 staff present are ‘relatively isolated’ from the population who live near the track.
The wearing of face masks could also be made mandatory and travelling personnel may be required to produce health certificates confirming they are not infected with Coronavirus.
Marko told Motorsport.com: “The Formula 1 community is afraid of being infected and wants to isolate itself as much as possible. At the same time that’s good, because the population is also afraid of being infected. Everyone is afraid and therefore everyone will be extremely careful.”
The plan is for all personnel to be accommodated in hotels near the Red Bull track, and could stay there for a fortnight if it is decided to hold races on July 5 and 12.
The Austrian believes that a TV only race can be run with minimal staff numbers that would satisfy local authorities, he thinks there should be support races too.
Marko has faith that the plan can get the support of the government as it will fulfil any health and safety requirements.
2020 cancellation hard blow – Sainz
Carlos Sainz believes that should the 2020 season be cancelled because of the coronavirus it would be a “hard blow that would be difficult to accept”.
The first nine races of the season have either been cancelled or postponed and both the French and Belgian Grands Prix also in doubt amid restrictions imposed by the countries. The Spaniard admits a year without racing would be very hard to digest and would have a very negative impact overall.
But the McLaren driver acknowledges the decision to abandon the season would be “fully understandable” if the COVID-19 situation continues to affect the world.
Speaking to Spanish media, Sainz said “I prefer to think there’s going to be fewer races than to imagine everything will be cancelled. Abandoning the season would be a hard blow that would be difficult to accept.”
“If the situation doesn’t get under control it would be fully understandable, but it would have very negative consequences for the sport and everything surrounding it. A lot of jobs would be at risk and that’s never good.”
Sainz says the sport is going to suffer because of the pandemic, saying that the teams are all working together to limit the damage.
Ferrari roles out mass testing for workforce
Ferrari is rolling out mass voluntary coronavirus testing for its staff so they can return to work as soon as possible, which could be the blueprint for the global car industry.
Under its “Back on Track” project, Ferrari staff, families and suppliers first take blood tests to see if they’re clear and will then be given an app which will alert them if they’ve been in close contact with any scheme members who contract COVID-19.
Teams and the global car industry looks to restart manufacturing and could be seen as a test to allow the F1 season to begin in Austria at the start of July. Although the testing is not targeted at the F1 team, could help if successful with restarting the season.
Ferrari aims to ensure only healthy staff resume work but if someone does get the disease, their close contacts will be alerted by the smartphone app to stay away from the plant until they’ve been given the all-clear. The region the team is based in has been one of the worst-hit by the coronavirus.
head of the UILM union in northern Italy’s Modena province Aberto Zanetti, said, “We’ve all understood we’re not indestructible, workers want to get tested.”
“This screening will allow us to take an initial picture of the health status of the tested company’s population,” said Ferrari’s head of human resources Michele Antoniazzi, adding that almost everyone offered a test had agreed to have one.
Ferrari said 500 out of the 4,000 workers at its Italian plants in Maranello and Modena had already taken tests and the company had the potential to do about 800 a day.
The blood tests show whether an employee is healthy, or might be infected. In the second case, they then need a swab test to confirm whether they have COVID-19.
The scheme the manufacturer will give specific insurance coverage to those hospitalized after testing positive and will arrange temporary accommodation and medical assistance for anyone who has to self-isolate.
Ferrari has ceased operations as its deemed a non-essential business and being Italy based it is not part of the consortium of seven teams building ventilators.
My generations battle – Monger
British racing driver and Channel 4 commentator Billy Monger described the coronavirus crisis as “my generation’s battle” and urged people to stay at home to protect themselves and NHS staff.
The twenty-year-old had both legs amputated after a Formula 4 crash in 2017. He has returned to racing after challenging the FIA to overturn its ban on disabled drivers in single-seater racing, currently racing in Euro Formula, and won last years Pau Grand Prix.
He told BBC News, “It frustrates me to see people disregarding rules, I think in a way they’re being selfish. I get they want their lives back to normal but look at the bigger picture. I know first hand the work NHS workers do and it’s the reason I am here now.”
“Obviously it’s very hard to compare this to what people in World War One and World War Two went through but in a way, when it comes to my generation, this is our battle,” Monger says that those breaking the rules are throwing in the towel for everyone else, and following the lockdown would end sooner.
Marking the third anniversary of his accident earlier in the month, Monger posted an emotional eight-minute video on Instagram where for the first time he showed the full extent of his injuries.
Saying, “I showed people so they could see the type of work the NHS do every day. And while this is going on they still have to treat people who’ve had accidents like me. So any extra work people are creating in the middle of this crisis is jeopardising their ability to save lives.”
He has since launched an appeal for the public to send in their NHS story on Twitter.