F1 Today – 30/03/2020

F1 Today

2020 season could run into 2021

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says that the team are open to extending the season into January to form a “more complete championship” after the start of the campaign was put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The first eight races have been either been cancelled or postponed, with the opener very provisionally, stated to be the Canadian GP on June 14. A month ago, the sport was planning for twenty-two races before the pandemic. That could be now cut to eighteen races.

While the summer shutdown has been moved to April to allow more flexibility in the calendar, but Binotto believes that the sport could race into the winter. He told Sky Sports Italy that the teams have been in “constant dialogue. These are crucial moments.”

“We have decided to give total freedom to the FIA to set up a timetable to get back to running as soon as possible, our availability is there. We are assessing various ideas; races closer together, and maybe doing two or three races in January.”

He believes the 2020-21 season could start in June and end in January, with a very short winter break so that the 2021 season can start mid-March in Melbourne. The sport needs a minimum of eight races for a valid championship and the 2020 season is currently due to end in Abu Dhabi on November 29.

Binotto says they have also discussed cancelling Friday practice which would lead to shortened weekends and potentially more scope for back-to-back races.

Ferrari, based in northern Italy, is currently in shutdown and Binotto said he has been working from home since returning from the cancelled season-opener in Australia.

He added, “I speak to the drivers almost daily. We talk on the phone and see each other through video calls.”


British GP in doubt due to coronavirus

Organisers of the British Grand Prix say the race is dependent on how long the national lockdown last, as it takes twelve weeks notice to prepare and the managing director of the circuit, Stuart Pringle, has said this could not begin with things as they currently are in the country.

Currently, the national governing body has ordered a three-month shutdown. While eight Grand Prix’s have already been postponed.

Pringle told the GP Fans website. “Sooner rather than later we’re going to have to make a decision. But twelve weeks is the drop-dead date to get things prepared.” That would require work to begin on 20 April, one week after the lockdown is due to end. If the restrictions are extended, Silverstone would be unable to prepare for the race.

However, said the circuit would pursue every opportunity to hold the race, the loss of the British Grand Prix from the calendar would be the first time in the history of Formula One that it hasn’t been held.

The cancellation would mean that most of the teams would lose their home Grand Prix and the circuit which hosted the first-ever F1 championship race in its seventieth anniversary year. It is something that Liberty will want to avoid.

Pringle confirmed ticket holders will receive a full refund if the meeting is postponed. Last year Silverstone was the best attended F1 meeting with a total of 351,000 people over the weekend and 141,000 on race day.


Marko wanted to expose drivers to Coronavirus

Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko wanted to organise a ‘Corona Camp’ for his team’s drivers so they would deliberately get infected with COVID-19.

The Austrian coronavirus now would help make them immune in the future when the racing season got going again. Speaking in a video interview with Austrian television station ORF, Marko said: “We have four Formula One drivers, and eight or ten juniors. The idea was to organise a camp where we could bridge this mentally and physically somewhat dead time.

“That would be the ideal time for the infection to come. believed that by exposing the drivers to These are all strong young men in really good health. That way they would be prepared whenever the action starts.” He says that its going to be a very tough season when it starts.

However, the idea didn’t go down well with others in the team and has been abandoned. Marko says now the aim rather than making them ill so they become immune, is on getting them fit and focused during this downtime.

Saying, “Max [Verstappen], for example, I think he drives more races than in a real season. He does sim racing and sometimes competes in several races per day.”

Marko says they all have their physios with them which they are using to keep fit. Even an eighteen race calendar in a reduced time frame would be very tough with no possibility of improving fitness during the season, which makes this the ideal time to improve fitness.


Rejigging calendar impossible – Ecclestone

Formula One chairman emeritus Bernie Eccleston believes there is little hope of Formula One racing this season due to the coronavirus pandemic and said he would have declared it game over already.

Speaking from lockdown at his farm in Brazil, he sees no chance of the British Grand Prix going ahead at Silverstone in July. He told Reuters, “Today what would I do? I think I’d have to say we’re going to close down talk of having any races this year.”

“That’s the only thing you could do safely for everybody so nobody starts making silly arrangements which may not be able to happen.”

Asked whether that meant effectively wiping out the season and saying there would not be any races and focus on 2021, he agreed. Saying, “Which is what they had to do for the Olympics of course. It’s unfortunate but that’s how it is,” Ecclestone added.

Formula One’s management team has said they hope for up to eighteen races, while Ecclestone hopes that they can pull it off, but was pessimistic about the chances of that happening. Adding “I’d be very, very, very surprised if they managed to achieve that.”

“I hope they do. I really hope they do. They could run three or four races at the beginning of next year and still count to the 2020 championship. The problem is where are you going to have them where the teams can go and the promoter wants to run a race.”

“It’s all very well making the calendar, which you can do while you wait. The big problem is getting the promoters to want to run the race.” Ecclestone says he is sorry for the people having to make decisions without knowing when the coronavirus crisis might end.

With seven races being effected, five postponed and two cancelled, rejigging half the season into five months is almost impossible. It looks likely that Canada, France, Austria and Britain look to follow.

The British Grand Prix is scheduled for July 19 but the July 9-12 Goodwood Festival of Speed, which attracts more than 200,000 people, was postponed this week. Ecclestone added, “Silverstone can’t run, for sure”, who had spoken to Goodwood owner Charles March, the Duke of Richmond, about the festival.


Mercedes designing CPAP devices

Mercedes have been working with University College London to design a breathing aid to try and keep coronavirus patients out of intensive care.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices are already used in hospitals but are in short supply. China and Italy used them to help Covid-19 patients.

Forty of the new devices have been delivered to ULCH and to three other London hospitals. If trials go well, up to 1,000 of the CPAP machines can be produced per day by Mercedes-AMG-HPP, beginning in a week’s time.

Unlike a simple face mask linked to an oxygen supply, CPAP delivers air and oxygen under pressure, so there needs to be a mask creating a tight seal on the patient’s face, over their mouth and nose or a transparent hood over their head.

If the device is successful, the manufacturer believes it can produce 1,000 devices a day if the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has already given its approval for their use.


Ferrari accepts disadvantages of delaying regulation change

Ferrari says that accepting the delay to the introduction of the 2021 regulations has likely put the team at a disadvantage.

One of the impacts of the Coronavirus is going to lead to the teams facing financial pressure with a likely cut in prize money and sponsor incomes, the sport’s chiefs have moved to make drastic changes over recent weeks.

The Italian accepts that its life is going to be more difficult because its car is not as competitive as it would like against Mercedes and Red Bull.

But team principal Mattia Binotto has made it clear that it was more important that Ferrari backed efforts to try to save smaller teams than focussing on its own competitive chances.

Speaking to Sky Italia about its support for the plan, Binotto said: “Considering the current baseline and the feedback from the tests, we don’t think we have an advantage with this choice. It wasn’t an easy decision, but it had to be made. It is a special moment, and it was important to give a responsible signal for the future.”

Binotto says that the teams need to discuss the final details of what was allowed next year and they were discussing it with all the representatives of the teams and with the FIA, to understand what will be frozen and what will be open to development.

Speaking about the events in Melbourne where a McLaren team member in Australia being testing positive for coronavirus, his outfit would not have competed even if the event went ahead.

“Our position was immediately clear, we would not have raced even if the weekend had taken place regularly,” he said. Binotto explained the drivers were free to head home on Thursday.


Shaving Norris’s hair for charity

McLaren’s Lando Norris has agreed to shave his hair off after raising £9,684 for a coronavirus response fund. The Englishman is a well-known sim racer outside of F1.

On Saturday he took part in the Twitch Stream Aid event on Saturday alongside a number of musicians and celebrities to raise money for charity. More than $2.2 million was raised for the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO, which is supported by the United Nations Foundation.

Norris pledged to shave his hair off if the fans donated more than £8,070, with the final total being £9,684. One donation of £564 tipped him over the target, with him saying “Does that mean I’m over?” Norris said laughing, adding: “No! We made 10k! RIP hair!”

In on Monday morning, Norris says he has ordered some trimmers from Amazon that were due to arrive in four days. Norris wrote on Instagram, “Thanks to all my viewers for raising over $12,000 by the end total for Twitch Stream Aid and the fight against COVID-19. I do have to cut all my hair off now though…”

McLaren teammate Carlos Sainz replied to Norris’ Instagram post saying: “Oh boy I’m ready.”

Norris has been taking part in a number of events since going into self-isolation following the events in Melbourne. Now the UK has gone into lockdown he has been racing in virtual race series.

Yesterday in the sports car race, he took pole and victory in the first race, before narrowly losing out to sports car racer Martin Kodric.


Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.