Quarantine restriction stop Verstappen’s test
Max Verstappen will not have an opportunity to carry out a shakedown ahead of next weekends season-opening Austrian Grand Prix. The UK’s quarantine restrictions a factor in making it too complicated for the Dutchman to join his Red Bull team’s run at Silverstone on Thursday.
Red Bull elected to use up one of its filming days with its 2020 F1 car like many other teams, this test was primarily designed as an opportunity for the team needing to practice the Coronavirus protocols.
The team would have liked to have Verstappen join his teammate Alex Albon for the driver refresher. However, the UK governments fourteen-day quarantine for anyone arriving from abroad meant that it was too hard to arrange for Verstappen to fly in from his home in Monaco.
If Verstappen were to have tested, he would have needed to arrive in the UK a fortnight with sports stars currently not exempt from the restriction that forces people to self-isolate for two weeks after their arrival.
Allied to the fact that the test is limited to just 100km, plus the car would be running on show car tyres, all the factors came together for team and driver to agree that the run went ahead without him.
Also, it would have been too difficult and not deemed beneficial to have run a multi-day test using a 2018 car, as it could have taken a 2018 car to a foreign track for a multi-day test, but it was running Renault power units that year so it would have been a challenge to have arranged a proper test with its former engine partner.
Red Bull unveil new upgrades
Red Bull has used its testing day to unveil new upgrades ahead of next weekends Austrian Grand Prix, using it 100km to test out some new parts ahead of the season opener in Spielberg next week.
Unlike Mercedes and Ferrari, which opted for the capability to run for longer with an older car in its pre-Austria running, the team used it to practice Coronavirus protocols and test new parts on its car.
The most visible change to the car is new hedgehog-style fins mounted on top of the fully enclosed holes that run parallel to the floor’s edge. This isn’t a new concept, but Red Bull have put in several holes into the floor allowing the air to the rear tyres.
Also, it appears that they have put new fins around the front bargeboards, which will alter the airflow that hits the rear tyre.
A cluster of legality slots have been added to the leading edge of the upper sidepod wing, and the mid-wing that houses the side impact spar. This indicates that there may also be many more corresponding changes on the floor below.
These appear to be an adjustment system for the aligning strakes that reside on the face of the upturned leading edge of the floor, remains to be seen.
It remains unclear how much of this package will be used next weekend in Austria, but it is clear that Red Bull are going into the new season aggressively to challenge Mercedes.
Renault announces its Austria upgrades
Renault has also announced it’s bringing three sets of upgrades which were planned during the ten cancelled or postponed Grand Prix’s to next weekends season-opening Austrian Grand Prix, to boost performance
Ahead of the season opener, the team announced an ambitious plan to bring to races in Vietnam, the Netherlands and Spain, all of which will be combined and put on the car for next week’s Austrian Grand Prix.
Speaking to various media on Friday managing director and team principal Cyril Abiteboul said, “The upgrades are coming it’s been a huge effort from internal production to get the package from races three, five and six – the initial numbering will be on our car in Austria. Those races have obviously not happened, but the performance that was supposed to come will be in Spielberg.”
Abiteboul did not want to speculate on where the upgrades would leave the team, ut was pleased they have not only managed to prepare the upgrades also that they have enough spares for the triple header.
He also says that he is still not sure where they are competitively from testing, but there had been a lot of effort into getting a quantity of parts because the Red Bull Ring can be harsh on cars.
Further steps to combat inequality
Formula One has made further announcements in its response to inequalities by announcing its setting up a foundation to fund apprenticeships and scholarships to increase diversity in the sport.
The £804,000 fund has been provided personally by F1 chairman and chief executive Chase Carey. The fund will grow with contributions from others, both within and outside the sport.
Carey told BBC News “We fully recognise that Formula 1 needs to be more inclusive and diverse. While we set out our strategy last year to improve the position of our sport, we need and want, to do more. That is why we will establish a task force to listen and ensure the right initiatives are identified to increase diversity in Formula 1.”
He says that the sport wants to ensure people from all backgrounds can work in F1 regardless of their gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or physical abilities.
F1 and world governing body the FIA are to instigate a plan to promote drivers from diverse backgrounds. The sport is responding to mainly the Black Life’s Matter movement following the death of George Floyd, but also the Coronavirus pandemic, social injustice and inequality.
This will, according to a statement, “identify and systematically eliminate barriers to entry from grassroots karting to Formula 1”.
Ecclestone accuses black people of being more racist
F1 chairman emeritus Bernie Ecclestone has accused black people of being more racist than white people. In a wide-ranging interview with CNN ahead of next week’s opening race he spoke about Lewis Hamilton’s new commission.
The six-time champion has led and forced the sport to respond to the Black Life’s Matter movement following the death of George Floyd. Hamilton is the only black driver to compete in the sport, and has become a powerful voice in the push for diversity in motorsport and called out F1’s “biggest stars” for “staying silent … in the midst of injustice.”
For his part, Ecclestone, who was replaced as chief executive of Formula One in 2017 after nearly four decades in charge, praised how Hamilton has spoken out for equality.
Ecclestone, told CNN “Lewis is a little bit special. First, he’s very, very, very talented as a driver and he seems to be now extremely talented when’s he standing up and can make speeches.”
“This last campaign he’s doing for Black people is wonderful. He’s doing a great job and it’s people like that, easily recognisable, that people listen to.” However, says he is doesn’t believe that it can have a tangible impact on the sport.
The 89-year-old continued by saying that changing attitudes towards race won’t come “easily,” scorning the dismantling of statues of slave trade figures, a move Hamilton backed when the statue of Edward Colston was torn down in the English city of Bristol.
He suggested that education was more important than taking down statues. Asked whether F1 should have done more to address the issue of diversity and inclusion Ecclestone said: “I don’t think anyone bothered about it before.”
“I think it’s an important issue, but it’s been there so long [and] nobody’s done anything. Why didn’t someone do something two or three years ago? They’re too busy trying to win races or find sponsors or something.”
Speaking about the ‘blackface’ incidents during testing and the 2008 Spanish Grand Prix, he apologised after being criticized for not taking the situation seriously, although he later said that he spoke to Hamilton’s father Anthony and that “everything [was] fine.”
Ecclestone reflecting on the incident “I’m surprised that it concerns him. I’m really unhappy if he took it seriously. I never thought he did. I didn’t think it affected him. I don’t know why the people did all of that anyway. Was it against him personally or what they thought?”
Responding to the comments a statement from F1 owners Liberty Media said, “At a time when unity is needed to tackle racism and inequality, we completely disagree with Bernie Ecclestone’s comments that have no place in Formula 1 or society.”
Imola urges it to be considered for Italian triple-header
The boss of the Autódromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari has urged Formula One to consider the circuit as a potential part of an Italian tripleheader in September.
The move comes as it appears that rival circuit Mugello will get the go-ahead to host the San Marino Grand Prix, and as Alpha Tauri carried out its shakedown at the circuit during a filming day. The president Uberto Selvatico Estense, continues to have a strong desire for a race.
Formula Imola president Estense still sees a chance for his circuit. He told Motorsport.com, “Imola has F1 in its DNA and on this track the history of F1 has taken place, it must not be forgotten and we must be rightly proud of it.”
“Looking ahead, and with an eye to the local economy in this serious moment of crisis, our goal is to bring back the top series to Imola’s circuit from this year. The most logical and most suitable solution for F1 fans from all over the world would be to use circuits with great media impact.”
Estense says they have been working with dedication and passion since April as well as the ANS, who support the bid, to get the race this year.
Alpha Tauri ran its cars at Imola earlier in the week, following that test, Daniil Kvyat says he believed the track would be ideal for an F1 race. Saying “Imola is a special track and I am very happy to get back in a F1 car, after this long pause, on this circuit.”
“I’ve known it for some time because I did one of my first tests here with a single-seater in 2010. The track is really fantastic to drive, with some nice fast corners. I am of the opinion that it should absolutely be on the F1 calendar.”
Wearing masks the biggest challenge in 2020
Ferrari believes the biggest challenge this season will be the wearing of face masks in the heat and intensity of a garage environment as teams get used to new coronavirus protocols.
Teams has been preparing for the opening race of the season in Spielberg next week, a number of teams have already run private tests to try to get used to a new way of working. They are all prepared for things to take longer because of social distancing requirements.
Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies says it is adjusting to life with a mask that could prove to be the hardest thing. Asked by Motorsport.com, about the difficulties teams face, he said, “I think in a very basic way, the biggest challenge, especially for the guys in the garage, will be to wear a mask pretty much all the time.”
“We have been starting to get used to it, and for all of us now it’s becoming a part of our normal life. Actually here in Ferrari, it’s compulsory, so we wear it at all times in the factory and in the office.”
“But it’s one thing to wear it in an office environment, it is something else to wear it when it will be 40 degrees and very hot at the racetrack.” Mekies gave credit to the medical profession who are wearing masks, plus Ferrari would give suitable breaks slotted in away from the garage environment.
He says that they have put in a number of measures for social distancing, including bubbles within the team’s bubble where possible. Mekies however made it clear that the ‘internal car bubble’; could be broken if there was a need for a major big job, such as engine change, on the other car.
Adding, “It’s not a regulation, so you are not forced into this bubble. You are forced into operating your team as a bubble. And the fact that we do a sub bubble inside it, is our responsibility.”
The Week Ahead
Next weekend sees the opening race of the season, this is going to be a trip into the unknown as we don’t know how the upgrades are going to work or these coronavirus protocols. Build up, you have to say will be the same as it was in Melbourne about Lewis Hamilton’s quest for his sixth title.
We know this isn’t going to be normal there is no ‘re-launch’ of the season, given this is a closed-doors race weeks. This is the first time we would be hearing from drivers since Melbourne in this way. Everyone wants to hear from Sebastian Vettel we haven’t really heard much since it was announced he was leaving Ferrari at the end of the season.
This will also be the same for Carlos Sainz and Daniel Ricciardo, it will be interesting how they interact with their teams. They both know unlike Vettel that they have contracts for 2021 with new teams, but they know they have contracts and are likely to be shut out from some discussions.
The other thing we need to do and this has begun, is to start cutting through the spin we are getting as we head into the opening race. We are starting to see some teams big up or downplay expectations, we need to look at this with caution.
We need to remember this is a double header, meaning we can do a lot more analysis going through the next three weeks. Red Bull will be the focus for both weekends its their home races, we saw them win here last season.
A full 2020 Prixview will be available tomorrow 09:00BST