French Grand Prix cancelled
Formula One has announced the French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard has been cancelled, pushing the earliest possible start of the new season into July.
The French government announced earlier this month it would be extending existing lockdown measures for an additional month in the bid to combat the spread of Coronavirus. The cancellation had been expected after French president Emmanuel Macron also confirmed the ban on public gatherings would remain until “mid-July.”
The race is the second race to be cancelled rather than postponed, joining Monaco. The season is now pencilled in to be the Austrian Grand Prix on 03 – 05 July, the first ten races of the season have been either postponed or cancelled because of coronavirus.
A statement said, “We regret to inform you that we take note of the impossibility to maintain the 2020 Grand Prix de France. We will have to wait until next year to live the #SummerRace, all together.” It means the Austrian Grand Prix on 5 July is now the earliest race yet to be called off.
Silverstone goes behind closed doors
Organisers of the British Grand Prix have announced the race should go ahead in July but behind closed doors due to government guidelines. In a letter sent to ticket holders, managing director Stuart Pringle said that it won’t be possible to allow fans to attend.
Although it has yet to be confirmed, the track is expected to stage two races, following on from two opening rounds in Austria. More news on the revamped schedule is expected to emerge soon.
Pringle says the decision was difficult but had to be made because of government guidelines making it impossible to go ahead as normal. He said, “I am extremely disappointed to tell you that we are unable to stage this year’s British Grand Prix in front of the fans at Silverstone.”
“We have left this difficult decision for as long as possible, but it is abundantly clear given the current conditions in the country and the Government requirements in place now and for the foreseeable future, that a Grand Prix under normal conditions is just not going to be possible.”
The decision was made to protect the staff delivering the race, including the teams, the volunteer marshals and broadcasters. The race will be broadcast on free-to-air TV.
He also announced that they plan to give away thousands of tickets for the 2021 event to NHS and other key workers who have been putting their lives on the line for us all, during these challenging time
Encouraging steps for Silverstone
Organisers of the British Grand Prix has described the countries government talks to get sport back underway as “very encouraging” for running the British Grand Prix in July.
Earlier in the day, the circuit announced that the race should go ahead, but without any fans present amid the ongoing restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The track remains open to hosting multiple races behind closed doors to help get the season underway, but would only be able to do so if government guidelines permit.
In the governments daily briefing on Sunday, the UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden said last week he had been holding “productive talks” with sporting bodies in the UK over how live sport would resume once the pandemic had eased.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Silverstone managing director Stuart Pringle said he was encouraged by the latest word coming out of the government. He said, “Whilst there’s an ounce of doubt about safety, for the fans, for all the teams, and for then people who earn their living in the sport, we have to do the right thing.”
“it’s very encouraging that the department of digital, culture, media and sport at the weekend indicated that they are keen to start a dialogue between medical officials and people in sport to see what might be done to achieve that.”
The news came on a day when Liberty announced the blueprint towards the season resuming in July. But Pringle admitted there are still was a number of challenges for Silverstone to navigate in the coming weeks, but stressed the track remained committed to helping F1 however it could.
“Of course we want the race to happen. The challenge is this is a situation that is unfolding and quite what the scale, the costs associated with that, the logistics, the complications – all of that is still being worked through,” Pringle said.
Liberty outlines plans to start the season in July
Formula One has laid out plans for the season to start in July at the Red Bull Ring, in a doubleheader which will take place behind closed doors. Discussions continue in the background, Silverstone formally confirmed on Monday that should the British Grand Prix take place.
The season should feature fifteen races, with a provisional calendar being released on Monday by Liberty Media. The FIA and promoters on different scenarios to start the season safely, and on controlled grounds, once various permissions have been given from promoters and respective governments.
Spa and Zandvoort look incredible shaky as the weather window in the region looks incredibly tight, as well as the government’s restrictions on mass gatherings.
In an image released on social media, it confirmed the European races should take place between July and September, the Asian and Eurasian races in September and October, followed by Americas in late October and November. The season is expected to finish in early December with a doubleheader in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.
Italy the epicentre of coronavirus in Europe and that has left its scars, so F1 is particularly aware of the potential sensitivities of holding an Italian Grand Prix. But, Liberty is facing political pressure from Ferrari and Sky for the race to go ahead because of the importance of both F1 and Ferrari in national life in Italy.
As indicated by Brawn to Sky F1, the sport desires to continue a season once it is up and running, rather than starting too early and then having to stop.
More developments are expected later in the week.
Leclerc explains differences between Hamilton and Verstappen
Charles Leclerc has explained the differences acing against Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, as he appraised two of his biggest F1 rivals.
Appearing on the latest edition of the Sky F1 Vodcast, the Ferrari star compared and contrasted the wheel-to-wheel styles of the respective Red Bull and Mercedes drivers.
In a series of questions from Sky, he explained what it’s like to race both Verstappen and Hamilton. Asked which of Verstappen and Hamilton he trusts more to race against, Leclerc replied: “If I want to be sure to finish the race, probably Lewis! But for the fun and the close racing probably Max, because I know it’s always exciting to be fighting with Max.”
Asked about Hamilton’s approach, he said, “Lewis is a bit of a different driving [style]. He’s extremely clever and I learn always so much when I fight with Lewis. He always knows exactly what you are going to do next with his experience, and that’s what makes him so good on track with the battles.”
After emerging as Ferrari’s lead driver last year, Leclerc signed a five-year contract which has prompted speculation about Vettel’s future. Both Ferrari and Vettel have implied that they want to extend that relationship, but there is still inevitable and regular speculation over potential alternatives in the seat to the four-time world champion.
Leclerc says he gets on well with Vettel, despite several on-track flashpoints in 2019, and would be keen for him to stay, but that ultimately he will accept the team’s call. He insisted, “The relationship with Seb is a lot better than people maybe think it is from looking from outside.”
Adding “It’s always been the same from the beginning to now and that’s good. Even though we’ve had a few problems on track, every time we have spoken calmly and we came back stronger.”
Bianchi deserved the same success – Leclerc
Charles Leclerc says that his friend Jules Bianchi probably deserved a Ferrari seat more than him, and would have delivered better results than he has so far.
Last week Daniel Ricciardo listed Bianchi as one of his most underrated rivals and suggested that the Frenchman would have been as big a star at Ferrari as Leclerc has become. But his career and life were cut short because of fatal injuries at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix.
Ricciardo wrote, “It’s another part of what makes his story so sad, because [Bianchi] would have been in a top team and a race winner by now for sure. In some ways, I feel Charles is doing now what Jules would have been doing. It’s like Charles is the delayed version of what Jules would have done with the success he’s having.”
Leclerc and Bianchi were very close friends. Bianchi was Leclerc’s godfather and served as his racing mentor, with the pair also both managed by Nicolas Todt.
Asked about Ricciardo’s comments, Leclerc agreed that Bianchi would have had a stellar career at Ferrari. Leclerc said, “Jules had shown what he had to show in F1, and there was definitely a lot more to come. But I think results like [scoring points] in Monaco when he was in Marussia, were telling a lot about his talent.”
Leclerc says that Bianchi deserved the seat at Ferrari more than he did, and the Frenchman would have shown probably even more talent than he would have had a similar rise to the top of F1.
Norris takes IndyCar iRacing win
Lando Norris dominated his debut in the IndyCar iRacing challenge to take victory in Saturday’s race around the Circuit of the Americas. Norris was racing for the Arrow McLaren team, where he took pole following a brilliant qualifying.
The Englishman then lost the lead of the race during the pit stop and retook the lead, after picking his way through the field he re regained the lead with four laps remaining when Felix Rosenqvist spun. His victory snapped a three-race iRacing winning streak for Team Penske that included consecutive victories by Simon Pagenaud.
Patricio O’Ward gave Arrow McLaren a 1-2 finish, followed by Rosenqvist of Chip Ganassi Racing. Norris said, “It was a tough race especially Pato chasing me down on new tires at the end. I didn’t think I’d get back to the front after that spin.”
Divila dies aged seventy-four
The designer of the early Copersucar Fittipaldi Formula 1 cars Ricardo ‘Richard’ Divila, has died at the age of 74 after a short illness. Although he was best known for his Fittipaldi connections, Divila was involved with an extraordinarily diverse range of categories and teams.
In an engineering and design career that stretched over nearly six decades, and which saw him work with a stellar list of drivers. Throughout his career, he worked mainly freelance juggling multiple jobs and championships at once.
Ricardo Ramsey Divila was born in Sao Paulo on May 30th 1945. He had Czech roots on his father’s side and held dual Brazilian/French nationality. He studied mechanical engineering, and with an interest in racing it was inevitable that he came across the Fittipaldi brothers, Emerson and Wilson.
When Wilson decided to start the first Brazilian team, Divila was recruited as a designer. He created the distinctive FD01/02/03 series, with his surname initial joining Fittipaldi’s in the type number. Wilson raced the model throughout the 1975 season.
Unfortunately, he failed to score a point, logging a best of 10th in the US GP finale, before retiring from driving. Emerson’s move to McLaren, prompted him to change to a more conventional-looking car, but after showing early pace in its home race – where it qualified fifth – it proved troublesome, scoring only a trio of sixth places.
He left F1 as a designer in 1982, becoming a consultant for a number of teams in F3 and F3000, as well as working with March, Jordan, Ralt on their way into motorsport. He then joined Ligier as chief engineer in 1989, before stints at Minardi, and then Nissan.
For the next two decades he would switch between F1 and sports cars, his final stint in F1 was with the Prost Grand Prix as R&D director, a role he combined with working on the French team’s junior F3000 outfit.
After Prost closed at the end of 2001, he focussed mainly on his relationship with Nissan, working extensively in Japan in SUPER GT and contributing to a string of titles, as well as winning in Super Formula with the Impul team.
Up until the end of 2019 he remained active as technical director of Formula Vee series in Brazil, and last year he took on a similar role for the country’s F4 championship.