No certainty on when normality returns
Racing Point team principal Otmar Szafnauer says there can be no degree of certainty when Formula One will return to normal amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Due to the pandemic, the first eight races have been postponed with two being cancelled, while the teams have agreed to shut down for three weeks. The sport is hopeful that an eighteen race calendar can still take place, but Szafnauer conceded there was no certainty as to when the sport would return to its usual service.
He told Motorsport.com, “This is an unprecedented situation, one that is changing by the day. Right now, we simply cannot say with any degree of certainty when we’ll be back to normal. There are so many factors that are not under our control”
He says the decision to hold off on next years regulation changes doesn’t mean that Racing Point would ease off on its push to close the gap to the midfield. Szafnauer says the delays make absolute sense both from a logistical and a cost perspective.
Adding “Of course, that doesn’t mean we can afford to take it easy when we return to work. When we do eventually get back on track, we need to be in a position to compete – whatever the regulations. There’s still plenty of work ahead and we’ll be ready to tackle it when the time comes.”
Racing Point entered its three week shut down on Wednesday but has also made arrangements for as many staff as possible to work from home from 16th of April.
Szafnauer says that the first concern is the physical and mental wellbeing of the team’s staff and families was the top priority. He recognised that like everyone in the UK they are adapting to this new reality, which isn’t easy for anyone.
“We’re obviously disappointed not to be able to race for the foreseeable future but, ultimately, we all understand the significance of the situation.”
F1 claps for carers
Formula One teams and personal all paid tribute to the NHS and social care workers amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Last night, the whole of the UK were asked to show their appreciation for the tireless work being done by NHS workers amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The idea was inspired by Annemarie Plas, from Brixton, south-west London, who was inspired by the same event happening in her home country of the Netherlands, and in many other countries.
“Join us in giving a round of applause Clapping hands sign to all of the health and social care staff on the frontline in the UK and around the world, working to keep us all safe.” McLaren
UK regulator calls for better support to teams
The chairman of Motorsport UK David Richards has called on Liberty Media to stand by the teams based in the UK to ensure they do not go into administration because of coronavirus pandemic.
Eight of the ten teams have some kind of UK operation, but now with the first eight races on hold, Richards believes the financial hit from those scrapped races could place a number of the smaller teams at risk. He says the sport’s owners need to look after the teams.
He told the Press Association “A lot will depend on the way Formula One behaves throughout this. F1 cannot afford to lose teams at the back of the grid because that would be a disaster for them.”
“Bernie made sure that when there were tough times the smaller teams were looked after and I hope that Liberty see the common sense in that, too.”
“The big manufacturers such as Mercedes and Renault will be okay, but if you look at Williams and Racing Point, for example, it is not going to be easy for them.” Richards warned that the privateers could go out of business if they do not have the resources to get through the pandemic.
Haas confirm Fittipaldi and Deletraz
Haas has announced that Pietro Fittipaldi and Louis Deletraz will continue as teams test and reserve drivers this season. The two drivers both joined the team at the end of 2018 and will continue development work this year.
Fittipaldi and Deletraz both made their debuts at the end of 2018 and were appointed to their current roles at the end of last year. Fittipaldi was the test driver with Deletraz being the simulator driver, both supporting Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen.
The announcement was due to be made in Melbourne, but then the outbreak of the Coronavirus overtook the agenda. Team principal Gunther Steiner said, “Pietro and Louis have both proven themselves to us over the past 12 months and we’re delighted to confirm them both as official test and reserve drivers for Haas F1 Team.”
“Their work in the simulator was undoubtedly of value as we faced our challenges last season and we’re excited to continue to present them with further opportunities to expand their relationship with the team in 2020 when we can return to work.”
Steiner says he is looking to the drivers having significant input into the team’s race programme and the engineering team.
Fittipaldi is currently without a race programme this year, after losing his Super Formula seat to the Red Bull junior Sergio Sette Camara, but is relishing the chance to continue working with Haas in F1.
“You never stop learning in F1 whether you’re spending hours in the simulator or physically behind the wheel of the actual car, something I’ve done a lot of with Haas, recording over 2000 kilometres in testing,” said Fittipaldi.
Delteraz will race with Charouz Racing System in Formula Two this season, he the takes the next step towards Formula One, they will also race in the next Virtual Grand Prix on 5th April.
Alliances threaten the independents
Williams believes that Formula One needs to “put a pin” in allowing closer alliances between teams in the future if it is to keep a full grid in the future.
A growing move towards partnerships between smaller teams and manufacturers has to lead to some of the more established private teams asking whether they should follow suit. When Haas entered the sport in 2016 they worked closely with Ferrari.
This has lead to teams like Williams and McLaren being worried about a squeeze if partnerships become a cheap way of getting success in F1. While Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams does not want to completely ban co-operations, she thinks a line should be drawn under how close some competitors are working.
She told Motorsport.com, “I think that we need to create a sustainable sport for all the teams. The work that F1 have done in recent times, particularly around the financial model, has been so important so that we can create sustainability and stability for teams like ours.”
“All business models should have the right to survive, but also thrive in this sport. That’s really important. And I wouldn’t want to see a next step with this.” Williams says that partnerships is creating a two-tier championship.
Red Bull wants answers on FIA settlement
Red Bull says they will not give up on its push to get to the bottom of the agreement reached between the FIA and Ferrari.
Before the coronavirus pandemic took over Formula One and the entire world, the hottest topic was a big group of teams threatening legal action over the way F1’s governing body handled the questionable legality of Ferrari’s 2019 engine.
Motorsport adviser Helmet Marko has reportedly told F1 Insider, “Unfortunately at the moment we are dealing with other things. But that does not mean that we will give up on the FIA and Ferrari business if things go back to normal.”
“The corona crisis took over but we still think the agreement was scandalous,” he added.
Speaking about Mercedes withdrawal, he said, “We don’t want to harm Ferrari or the FIA in any way, but we continue to demand complete clarification of how the strange private agreement came about,” he said. “Even without Mercedes, who strangely jumped off the train even though they were the train driver from the beginning.”