Shorter season doesn’t mean champion not worthy
Sebastian Vettel and Esteban Ocon believe a shorter Formula One season would still result in a worthy 2020 world champion. The shortened season will place an extra premium on consistency, with Ocon admitting teams and drivers would be left without any “jokers” to play in their results.
The 2020 season was due to be the longest season in the history of F1, however, the coronavirus has left the sport targeting fifteen to eighteen races in just five months.
Tentative plans are being put in place to open the season with a behind-closed-doors Austrian GP on July 5, provided relevant government permissions are given, but F1 have also stressed they know nothing can yet be set in stone amid the fast-moving coronavirus crisis.
In the last decade, the minimum number of races per season was nineteen, while every season since 1984 has featured a minimum of sixteen races.
Ocon says however long the season is, it would not devalue the achievements of the year’s eventual title winners. Ocon told Sky Sport., “The more we can do the better it would be for a championship.”
“But I agree that for a good 10 races or more if we can do that it would be still valid. There are enough races and it’s the same for everyone to determine who is the best and who’s not in the end.”
Vettel added “Obviously, we had less races in the past, and more races today, but I don’t think it makes a big difference. A season is the season whether it’s 10, 15, 20 or 25 races. You still have to be the one who is most consistent.”
He explained that the value of points at each race was more important, as fewer races means mistakes are costly but there was still a long way to go until the season starts.
But with fewer opportunities to recover from setbacks, Ocon warned: “There’s not going to be any joker [to play]! There’s no places to DNF. It’s going to be very important to finish all the races, score all the points available, and get it to the finish.”
Austria ‘realistic’ for the season opener
Racing Point team principal Otmar Szafnauer believes it is realistic to get the new season underway in Austria at the beginning of July. The comments came after the blueprint to get the season underway was outlined on Monday, following the Coronavirus Pandemic.
The focus is for the Austrian Grand Prix to go ahead as planned behind closed doors on 03 – 05 July, for a fifteen race season. He says that as long as the paddock personnel could be tested and cleared for COVID-19, starting the season in Austria was a realistic option.
Szafnauer told CNN, “If Austria do a very good job as a country to contain the spread of the virus into July, and there’s testing available for all of the Formula One employees or participants to actually test, I think it’s plausible to put on a race in early July.”
“If by sometime in June, we say yes, it’s on, it’s happening, we’re safe to go. I think all the teams will be able to make it, no problem.” The plan was announced for a fifteen race season, starting a swing of European races behind closed doors through July, August and September.
This would be followed by events across Asia and the Americas through late autumn before ending the season with Bahrain and Abu Dhabi in December.
The regional government in Styria have been working closely with Liberty and Red Bull on the viability of holding the race. The countries government has said it will not “stand in the way” of any race taking place, but stressed the teams and other F1 personnel would need to adhere to strict guidelines when entering and exiting the country.
Hermann Schützenhöfer, the governor of Styria, has expressed his support for the race being held at the Red Bull Ring, believing it would be a boost for the region to put on such an event safely.
Schützenhöfer told Austrian press agency APA last week, “Of course I support the idea of Formula 1 at Red Bull Ring coming to Styria even this year We must not lose our positive attitude during the crisis.”
“It would be wonderful to send images from an exciting Grand Prix, as well as the beautiful images from the Murtal region around the world, at least via TV.”
Budapest confident of a race in ‘some form’
Organisers of the Hungarian Grand Prix remain confident that the race weekend 31st July – 02nd August remains viable in ‘some form’ despite the Coronavirus.
The race is currently scheduled as the third race on the calendar, but the revised 2020 calendar is still to be confirmed. The first ten races of the season have been either cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic. The circuit says all options remain open after Austrian and British organisers look to go ahead without fans.
The boss of the Hungarian GP is open to all solutions for the Budapest event. Hungaroring circuit CEO Zsolt Gyulay told Autosport, “We are in a daily contact with the rights holder. Liberty is aware that we are open for all kinds of solutions, and we are ready for organising a race.”
“The way it takes is definitely beyond our control, and it depends on the situation the country is in. We are waiting for the relaxation of the measures, and how and when life goes back to normal.”
Gyulay says the planned date in August remains viable, but discussions about whether it will be two races, a race without fans or a normal race weekend were still to be had.
But warned this “depends on the government’s set of rules, too. However, one thing is sure, for both the government and the Hungaroring it is very important to organise the Hungarian Grand Prix.”
The two options. The first one is organising a race closed to fans, similarly to Austria. Certainly, it would mean a huge loss for the promoter. The second option is to organise the race with fans, in which we have 35 years of experience.
However, he confirmed that all new ticket sales had been stopped and preparation work.
Hockenheim prepared for 2020 race
Hockenheim says it is in renewed talks about holding the German Grand Prix this year. The race was not scheduled to be on the calendar this year after it was unable to reach a fresh agreement with F1 to host the race again this year.
The German Grand Prix did not feature on the twenty-two race calendar initially planned by F1 for 2020, only for the Coronavirus pandemic to result in the opening ten rounds to be called off. The plan is now for a series of races behind closed doors in the summer, that has prompted the circuit to enter talks about hosting a closed-door race this season.
Hockenheim CEO Jorn Teske told Motorsport.com, “I can confirm that we are in talks. We were and are in contact with our colleagues from Formula 1 from time to time anyway. After so many years of partnership, it is quite normal to ask each other what the respective status is.
“We are in dialogue regarding these topics. And we have also talked about the uncertainties of the race calendar in Formula 1.” Teske says while early discussions had taken place, no serious talks about dates or contract terms had taken place.
The reason why the race wasn’t on the calendar this year was due to the financially viable for the circuit after struggling with sizeable hosting fees in the past. Teske said this approach would remain unchanged if the track were to host a race this year, which would likely take place behind closed doors.
The sport is aiming to run its European season behind closed doors between July and September, as long as national restrictions remained in place over social distancing and bans on large public gatherings.
Correa speaks about the accident at Spa
Juan Manuel Correa has opened up to about the crash at last years Formula Two Belgian Grand Prix that left him with life-altering leg injuries and claimed the life of Anthoine Hubert last year.
Correa crashed into the Frenchman in the race, after Hubert had lost control of his car, which came to a stop at one of the most dangerous points of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, as Correa approached over a blind crest of a hill, resulting in a 218 km/h crash that reached a peak impact force of 81.8g.
Hubert was killed with Correa spending months in rehab, after deciding not to have an amputation in favour of a total reconstruction of his right leg. Earlier this month, Correa posted a video of himself walking without crutches, far sooner than doctors had predicted he would be able to.
In his first interview since the accident with ESPN, Correa spoke about a wide range of topics starting from the crash, “I don’t know how I didn’t pass out. wish I would have passed out but I was fully conscious.”
“The thing that really scared me in that moment was that, usually with the amount of adrenaline we have, you don’t feel pain at all. I’ve had crashes before where I’ve walked out and then three hours later, I couldn’t get out of my bed from the pain, but in the moment, I didn’t feel anything.”
He says once the adrenaline had worn off, he went into a state of shock and couldn’t breathe, my chest took a huge impact as well.
Speaking about the first time he was told of Hubert’s death, he said “Everything was really surreal, like a very, very bad nightmare. But it’s a nightmare you never wake up from. The whole process of dealing with it and finding out Anthoine had passed, it was very sad, very, very sad. Unbelievable.”
Correa says subconsciously he knew that Hurbert died, but wasn’t sure what was real and was in my hallucinations.
Speaking about his rehab, he said he was targeting a return to racing next year. But joked in the early weeks after coming out of the coma he considered leaving racing behind and becoming a DJ, but soon realised he could never fully turn his back on motor racing.