Championship not devalued by fewer races
Sebastian Vettel believes that a championship this year would not be devalued if the season was halved to just ten races. The seventieth season was due to be the longest but could now be one of the shortest in recent history.
However, the coronavirus pandemic has seen the first half of the season ripped up and the sport is unsure about how many races it will be able to hold this year. One idea being considered is to begin the season in Austria in July with a behind closed doors event, but that will depend on travel restrictions being lifted.
The target for 15-18 Grand Prix’s appears ambitious, but only eight races are needed to have a championship. The situation is changing fast and no one can predict how things will develop over the next few months. But even if the championship is reduced to just 10 races, Vettel insists that the eventual title winner would be just as worthy.
Speaking to the media via video conference, the German said, “I don’t know how it would feel because we never had that sort of circumstance. Before we had fewer races in the past and more races today, but I don’t think it makes a big difference.”
“Obviously a season is a season, whether it’s 10, 15 or 20, 25 races. So you still have to be the one that is most consistent. With less races, every race is more important, but the championship would still be the championship.”
He says that race weekends are still a long way and that means there will still be a lot of things to get right. Vettel, however, believes its too early to start thinking too much about what may happen. Vettel, says that no one knows what is going to happen this season.
Smaller teams should buy cars – Horner
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has called on Formula One to allow teams to buy cars from their rivals as it would slash their costs to just £63m and help to keep their wheels turning during the coronavirus shutdown.
The regulation says that every team “must design and manufacture certain key parts of its cars itself, including the chassis, which means that each team’s cars are unique.” It has driven up their costs to an average of £190m annually as the teams try to win the development war.
Red Bull’s latest accounts show that they spent £118.1m on F1 in 2018, which is six times the amount spent by the smaller teams. This has prompted concerns that their owners could put the brakes on their F1 outfits to cut costs during the coronavirus crisis with McLaren boss Zak Brown recently telling the BBC that he “could see four teams disappearing”.
F1 is due to limit team budgets to £138m next year but Horner fears that this won’t do the trick. Driver salaries, as well as the design, development and manufacture of the engines, are excluded from the cap so there is no guarantee.
Speaking to The Independent, Horner says allowing backmarkers to buy their cars “would be the cheapest way to address their issue, their plight, and the quickest way to be competitive as well.”
“You would save because you would just operate as a race team. You would have a limited development budget so you could quite easily operate, I would have thought very comfortably, at $80 million.” This would cut their cost by sixty-seven per cent, giving the smaller teams a more competitive car.
But it would be a fundamental change to the model of F1, the difference between F1 and its American-rival IndyCar is that “unlike F1, IndyCar teams are not required to be ‘constructors’ of their cars resulting in less diversity of technology as compared to F1.”
Dutch GP in doubt as government bans gatherings
The Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has announced the ban on all public events has been extended until September, creating further implications for the Formula One calendar. The advice means that this year’s Grand Prix cannot take place in the summer.
In a statement the government Outbreak Management Team (OMT) which states that “allowing events to take place poses a real risk of the virus spreading too quickly and too widely”. Because the OMT does not expect this to change in the short term, the advice was to extend the ban on events for a longer period.
Rutte said: “Events will not take place until September 1. We are therefore extending that decision by three months, from June 1 to September 1. We are doing this because we can’t take the risks for the next three months and because we want to do justice to the need for clarity on the part of the organisers.”
The promotor Jan Lammers had planned for the race to be the start of the European season, as it returned for the first time in thirty-five years. He told Motorsport.com: “We have already gone through so many scenarios. It’s all wasted energy. It only leads to more questions and confusion. As much as we’d like to say something, we can’t say anything until it’s concrete.”
There had been speculation that the race could have slotted in on weekend before the Belgian Grand Prix, 21 – 23 August, but that plan is now not going to happen.
Lammers dismissed the notion that the Dutch F1 race could have been rescheduled for August: “By now it has become clear that August was never an option. That underlines once again how pointless it is to talk about different scenarios.
Drivers react to close door racing
Formula One is discussing the possibility of the season beginning behind closed doors, what do the drivers think of fan-less Grand Prix’s. Closed-door racing is being seen as a way of starting the season after the first ten races where postponed or cancelled.
Both the Red Bull Ring and Silverstone have confirmed their respective circuits would be willing to host events without spectators, provided relevant permissions were given, with both the Austrian and British Grand Prix’s currently scheduled for July.
Ricciardo says he would support the move, providing the season safely underway behind closed doors at some point in the forthcoming months, then he would support the moves.
Ricciardo said on the Sky F1 Vodcast, “There’s obviously a push for a season to happen with the right circumstances. If that means some of it, or the start of it, is behind closed doors – from my side, so be it.”
“As a competitor and not racing since November-December, all I want to do right now is go racing and so as soon as we’re all clear to go… Of course, with a crowd it’s nice, but if we can still race without, I’ll take that any day.”
Vettel, who is also a director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, revealed that there had been a “fair amount” of talk among the body’s members about when the season might resume – and under what conditions.
The German accepts that the sport faces a difficult balancing act amid the coronavirus crisis, but stressed that both team personnel and potential spectators of events needed to be looked after.
Imola prepared to host Grand Prix
The president of the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Uberto Selvatico Estense says the circuit is willing to host the San Marino Grand Prix behind closed doors, should conditions in Italy improve in the coming months.
It’s the second time the circuit has offered to host a Grand Prix this season, in February it offered to host a race in place on the Chinese Grand Prix. But that would never have happened after Italy became the centre of the pandemic.
However, with the F1 organisation now seeking dates for races without spectators, Selvatico Estense says he would be willing to offer Imola for free later in the year if government rules allow it. This would be the first F1 race to be staged at Imola since 2006 when it hosted the San Marino Grand Prix.
Selvatico Estense told Autosport “This situation is an opportunity for us to be a candidate for a Grand Prix this season. They need some races in order to maintain the contract with the FIA and have a World Championship. So why not think about Imola.”
“Obviously it depends also on the government rules, if they will allow us to run such a race. Of course, we’ll offer the track for free, and then talk about costs on our side if possible.”
The possible date could be the weekend of 28 – 30 August currently filled by the Belgian Grand Prix, but the government has banned all big gatherings until the 1st of September. However, Imola says they open to any options but suggests that Imola could run a back-to-back race with the Italian GP at Monza, which is still scheduled for 04 – 06 September.
Selvatico Estense said it would be a closed circuit race, which means they will not have the costs of setting up grandstands and hospitality for fans. He also suggested an October or early November date, which could be useful if F1 has trouble securing the flyaway races that are planned for mid-September onwards.
Norris invites Captain Moore for McLaren tour
Captain Tom Moore who has raised £27m for NHS Charities Together has accepted an invitation from Lando Norris to tour McLaren’s headquarters, claiming that “nothing would bring me more pleasure” as he’s a big fan of the team.
Norris called Captain Tom over the weekend to praise his efforts, with the ninety nine-year-old having raised more than £27m for NHS Charities Together after initially targeting £1,000 by walking 100 laps of his garden to mark his 100th birthday.
It also gave Norris a chance to formally invite him to McLaren’s HQ. Norris said, “It’s an honour to speak to you I’m sure you’ve been told many times, but from my side and everyone at McLaren, we want to say a big congratulations for everything you’ve done.”
“It’s my honour that I get to speak to someone like you, Captain Tom, who has achieved things which very few manage to achieve ever in their lifetime. At 99 years old, turning 100 on [April] 30th, that’s another big achievement.”
“We would like to invite you eventually to McLaren for a little tour, a big tour, whatever you want, of our whole facility.”
Captain Tom, turns a hundred on 30th April and said he had been looking forward to speaking to Norris, as a McLaren fan, and gleefully accepted his invitation.
Saying “Nothing would bring me more pleasure than that. It would be absolutely phenomenal for me to come around McLaren because I’ve been a McLaren fan for a very long time and I still am.”
The former soldier believes that Norris would be a future F1 “number one” while also confirming he would “keep on walking while people keep contributing”.
Norris invited for COTA IndyCar race
Lando Norris has been invited to take part in Saturday’s IndyCar virtual race at the Circuit of the Americas. Indy Car is one of the championships which has to sim racing to fill the void as the world deals with the coronavirus.
The fifth round of the iRacing Challenge will take place this Saturday on the Circuit of the Americas. McLaren’s Lando Norris has been invited by the series to join the grid and rub elbows with IndyCar’s regular pack of drivers.
Norris has taken part in F1’s Virtual Grand Prix’s, The Not The GP’s and various other races since the postponement.