Shutdown extended to sixty-three days
The FIA has announced a further extension to the shutdown of Formula One extending the shutdown to sixty-three days, meaning teams cannot work on the development of the cars until the end of May.
The summer shutdown was brought forward to April after the first four races were postponed and when that was extended until the end of May it also leads to the shutdown being extended by five weeks. Meanwhile, the extension for power unit suppliers has been increased from 35 days to 49, again running into June.
In both cases, the FIA has introduced an option for some R&D work to be undertaken in the latter part of the shutdown, but it will be closely monitored, and no aerodynamic work can be done.
The reworded 2020 sporting regulations now read, “Fifty days after the start of their shutdown period, upon application by a Competitor, and subject to the prior written approval of the FIA, each Competitor may use the services of a maximum of ten personnel to work remotely on long-lead-time projects.”
The rules for power unit suppliers say a maximum of ten personnel work on development, but there is no restriction on the type of work that can be done, and it can start thirty-six days after the start of the shutdown period.
Shutdown restrictions on operations producing medical equipment are exempted from the shutdown.
Big void with no racing – Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton says the lack of racing in F1 so far this year has left him feeling “a big void”. The Mercedes drivers’ season was expected to be dominated by his bid to equal Michael Schumacher’s seven titles, but he says that he “misses racing every day”.
Writing online, he said “This is the first time since I was eight that I haven’t started a season. When you live and breathe something you love, there’s definitely a big void.” But he added the coronavirus crisis had given everyone “time to reflect”.
The Englishman hopes that the world comes out of this crisis with better knowledge of our world. Hamilton is a vegan, and has spoken in recent years about man’s effect on wildlife, he says that less demand on meat because of lockdown means less animals being slaughtered for our pleasure simply because our demands are much lower and everyone is staying in.
Saying “Let’s not come back the same as we went into this tough time. Let’s come out of this as a new us, a new reinvigorated you, fitter, healthier and more focused, but above all kinder, more generous and gracious and caring for our world and the people in it.”
Leclerc happy if Vettel retained as teammate
Charles Leclerc says he would be more than happy to keep Sebastian Vettel as his teammate next year, insisting their relationship is better than how it is sometimes portrayed.
While Leclerc has a five-year contract with Ferrari, Vettel remains in talks with Ferrari to secure a new contract. Speculation remains about whether Ferrari will want to retain the German, Leclerc is clear that he would have no qualms about staying as Vettel’s teammate, despite some controversial collisions in their first year together.
the Monegasque told Motorsport.com, “I’m very happy with Seb. I think it was good, even though we had a few problems on track like in Brazil or things like this. I think it has always been a good relationship, even though from the outside it was probably not seen as it was.”
“So I’ll be happy to keep him, but I will respect the decision for whoever is next to me.” Leclerc says it is not his job to choose his teammate, but he would need to adapt and learn from whoever is his teammate, he would welcome anyone.
There had been some speculation linking Lewis Hamilton with a switch to Ferrari, but it is now looking increasingly likely that the Briton will stay put at Mercedes. Leclerc says that he would be happy should Hamilton join Ferrari, saying he “just want to bring my team where it deserves and to win.”
Asked if he would be open to a pay cut given the financial pressures on teams, Leclerc says he is open to it and it was worth considering this particular moment and considering all the difficulties that we are all experiencing.
Barcelona free to host race whenever
The organisers of the Spanish Grand Prix say the Circuit de Catalunya is open to running the race in the summer and says there are no restrictions on when the circuit can be used. The race was originally scheduled for the 08 – 10 May but was postponed due to Coronavirus.
With the French Grand Prix cancelled, and mass gatherings banned in Belgium and the Netherlands until September 1, Barcelona is one of the few European venues readily available to immediately follow the opening rounds of the season.
circuit general manager Joan Fontsere told Motorsport.com, “Since the beginning what we offered to Chase [Carey] is that we want to be on the same page.”
“Obviously if they think we can help the sport of F1 to have a stronger and better world championship in the future, we will be there. That’s the way we’ve acted from the beginning to today.” She says that the circuit is open to any dates in the summer.
Normally the circuit would not choose a summer date because of the tourist season, however, the likely restrictions caused by Coronavirus and the prospect of a closed-doors event means that all options are open.
The circuit says that running behind closed doors in a reduced format would make it easier to set up. In ‘exceptional circumstances’ the race without fans means it can be held with three weeks notice. 2020 is the final year of his contract, it is expected to drop off the calendar and replaced by Vietnam or Miami next year.
However, despite facing financial pressures the circuit is keen to extend its arrangement, and Fontsere says that the local authorities have been supportive.
She added, “The Catalan government once again has given us a big hand on that. It would be easy for them to say this year there is no F1 because there is no date, there are no healthy conditions, and there is no money at all.”
No racing would be financially “devastating”
McLaren CEO Zak Brown says the financial consequences of F1 not racing this year would be “devastating” for teams, but he thinks Liberty’s current plan for no spectator events can work.
Speaking before the plans to start the season in Austria in July and the cancellation of the French Grand Prix, Brown said he hopes that the season can be started as soon as it is safe because he fears of the consequences should there be no races at all in 2020.
Brown told Motorsport.com, “I think the sport has always been a great healer around the world. So I think the appetite for F1, closed doors or not, and sport, in general, will be awesome.”
“But if we end up having no F1 this year, I think the financial consequences for all the teams in F1 itself will be devastating, just as I think it would be for any industry if you shut down for an entire year.”
He says should the sport need to find a solution as a year without racing will harm the financial model of the teams which would be ‘extremely severe’ for the sport.
Brown says that the main problem for teams will be if F1’s commercial rights income – which is worth around $1 billion in total – gets reduced to zero. Adding “I think you all know it’s a healthy number – there or thereabouts around a billion dollars that gets shared with the teams.”
He say that without any racing this year would be drastically reduced teams resources. The idea of holding multiple events at venues is “sensible”, and that pushing on without spectators is the right thing to do for now. Brown says that short term racing without fans is a realistic way of racing.
However, warned the development of second waves of the pandemic in Japan and Singapore means there remains great uncertainty.
Brown calls for details of Ferrari secret engine deal
McLaren CEO Zak Brown has challenged Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto to prove his “ethical” sporting considerations by releasing all details about the secret arrangement with the FIA over its 2019 power unit.
The Italian manufacturer was at the centre of controversy earlier this year when it was announced that it had reached a private agreement with the FIA to settle a question of the legality of its 2019 engine. The investigation concluded that there were questions, but there was no hard evidence that the team had broken the rules.
Ferrari denies wrongdoing and is adamant it had been legal at all times. With rival teams unhappy about the confidential nature of the arrangement, FIA president Jean Todt told Motorsport.com recently that he would be happy to release all details about the case.
The teams want more information, but the terms of the settlement Ferrari needs to give full approval of Ferrari, something that has not been forthcoming.
But in the wake of comments from Binotto to The Guardian newspaper talking about Ferrari’s ‘ethical duty’ to look after his staff in the wake of a push to bring down F1’s budget cap, Brown says that such a moral stance should also be extended to other matters.
Brown told Motorsport.com, “I’m all for having ethical duties. And, along the lines of ethics, I think it would be great if Mattia would share with us, as the FIA has volunteered to share, what the details were behind the secret agreement that they came to over the alleged breach of regulations around their engines.”
The seven non-Ferrari teams wrote to the FIA about their unease about the nature of the secret agreement with the Italian team, but since then Mercedes has stepped away from being involved in the matter.