An announcement by the organizers of the Grand Prix de France is expected soon on the status of its event on June 28.
It was thought that the Paul Ricard remote circuit in the south of France – which has its own landing strip for teams to fly in their gear – would be a great place to start the season in an event with no spectators, but the President Emmanuel Macron has confirmed that the ban on major public events will continue until July.
IN DISCUSSION: The season will start at an Austrian Grand Prix behind closed doors in July
The current state of affairs means that it is impossible to set a start date for the F1 season. The 2020 calendar as we knew it before the year was torn at this point.
Teams discuss a number of options but face an ever-changing situation.
Austria’s recent easing of lockout restrictions has sparked optimism about hosting the first race of the year in early July, according to a BBC report on Friday. The Red Bull Ring is based outside the remote Austrian town of Spielberg. The prospect of organizing two or three races the following weekend at Silverstone, home of the British Grand Prix, was also raised.
While it is easy to see the merits of the Austrian idea, the state of play in the United Kingdom and Italy – where nine of the 10 F1 teams are based and the tire supplier Pirelli – complicates matters . The UK extended its lockout until mid-May, while similar restrictions remain in Italy.
It is difficult to imagine teams allowed to travel en masse from these locations while these restrictions are in place.
SPECULATION: Belgian and Italian GPs under threat
The Belgian-Italian double-headed GP traditionally arrives after the summer holidays of August, but the two famous races seem unlikely to be held on their usual dates.
Belgium has extended the ban on mass public events until September – the Belgian GP was scheduled for August 30.
Italian GP leaders seem hesitant to wait too long to make a decision on its race, ACI President Angelo Sticchi Damiani pointing to the late cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix in March as fans descended on the Melbourne circuit.
“We can no longer afford to make mistakes like in Australia, when the GP was canceled with the public already on the track,” Damiani told Gazzetta dello Sport. “It was a setback for everyone, from Liberty Media to the teams and the local organizers. To start again and then be forced to stop would be a disaster. “
Monza’s location on the outskirts of Milan is at the heart of Italy’s most affected region, making it hard to imagine the event taking place in early September. Even worse for the organizers of these races, the European climate leaves limited room for maneuver for F1 in terms of reorganizing Belgian or Italian events much later than in October.
CONFIRMED: F1 has until October to start racing again
F1 motorsport boss Ross Brawn said October was “a dead spot” in terms of launching a 2020 season. If there is no prospect of racing before that, then it becomes likely that F1 is canceling the whole season.
Brawn remains confident that F1 can organize up to 19 races this year if it takes place on time. Achieving this figure would depend on organizing multiple races over the weekend (such as the Silverstone discussion mentioned above). He is also willing to extend the current season to January of next year if absolutely necessary.
Among the races which have not taken place so far, only Australia and Monaco are definitively canceled. In an ideal world, F1 would reprogram as many of these as possible.
F1 has already agreed to shorten race weekends by three to two days to ease the burden on teams, who face the prospect of multiple triple heads (three races in three consecutive weekends) if a championship season takes place.
UNDER DISCUSSION: NFL project style changes to budget ceiling
The current hiatus has put F1 finances at the center of attention, with the lack of racing driving down revenues. F1 will introduce a budget cap next season, capped at $ 175 million for each team.
Teams have already agreed to cut that amount to $ 150 million for financial protection next season, but some are pushing for an even bigger cut. McLaren wants it cut to $ 100 million next season. Team director Andreas Seidl said the current crisis should be “Last awakening for a sport that was [already] unhealthy before. “
The reduction is expected to be much less substantial, with BBC talks around a $ 145 million cap for 2021, which is then reduced to $ 130 million for the following season.
There has also been talk of implementing rules to keep the playing field as level as possible with an NFL draft style system based on finish position, which means that the team that finished first in the Championship is allowed to do the least aerodynamic research for cars following the season and the team that finished last is allowed to do the most.
Two budget ceilings?
Ferrari argued that there should be two budget caps – one for real automakers and another for those who buy parts from others. Red Bull boss Christian Horner suggested that smaller teams buy whole chassis from larger teams to cut costs. These two points show the breadth of opinions and discussions going on about the future of sport.
However, as with the discussions about the start of the season, ideas are still being launched. Agreement on the details of the budget ceiling for 2021 and 2022 is expected to take some time.
LIKELY: An extension to the F1 plant closure
The plant closure, which has been postponed from its usual August summer break time slot, is expected to last beyond April.
The stop will only be lifted six weeks before the season’s opening race, which means it is effectively undefined until F1 manages to secure an opening race. This shows why it is so important for F1 to develop long-term emergency plans for a number of different scenarios.
CONFIRMED: Big change in F1 rule delayed, development frozen
These are now “old” news, but still relevant to all of the other ongoing discussions.
The coronavirus pandemic has prompted F1 to postpone the massive change to its technical regulations from 2021 to 2022, to ensure that teams are not forced to spend money to develop two cars at this stage.
The cost-cutting measures include a car development freeze for 2020 and 2021, which means that the cars we saw in the preseason tests probably won’t change much in what could be two seasons. World Championship.
ONGOING: Pit Lane Project and other projects
F1 teams have played a big role in helping local health authorities fight the coronavirus. Mercedes has reallocated its F1 engine plant in Brixworth to focus on producing the breathing aid it reverse engineer with University College London in 10 days. The factory produces 1,000 units per day.
The seven UK-based F1 teams are also involved in the “Pit Lane Project” and are looking to produce 20,000 fans.
The Ferrari factory in Maranello is currently building respiratory valves and protective mask fittings to help fight coronavirus in Italy, which remains one of the most affected countries in the world.
The Agnelli family, which controls the Ferrari F1 team and the road car activities, as well as FIAT Chrysler and the Juventus football club, donated 10 million euros and announced a series of measures through the country, including the supply of 150 fans and the supply of vehicles to the Italian Red Cross.
CONFIRMED: Authorizations and salary reductions
Teams based in the UK took advantage of the government’s plan to pay 80% of the salaries of staff on forced leave, known as leave.
McLaren, Williams, Racing Point, Renault and Haas have laid off most of the staff working in their British factories. On each occasion, any employee remaining at work does so with a reduced salary. The pilots of each team would have received a reduced salary, including Daniel Ricciardo at Renault, which should receive 25 million dollars per year.
Formula 1 has also authorized 50% of its staff until the end of May. Senior management faces at least a 20% pay cut, although F1 CEO Chase Carey is likely to voluntarily take a much larger cut.