Friday, March 20, 2020

Formula 1 Scrambles to Salvage 2020 Season, Delays Sweeping 2021 Rule Changes Due to COVID-19


Formula 1 is now scrambling to fix the rest of the 2020 race calendar due to the COVID-19 outbreak affecting the world.

After canceling the Australian Grand Prix at the very last minute, and postponing (officially) the Chinese, Bahrain, and Vietnamese Grand Prix, the Dutch and Spanish Grand Prix have now been postponed, while the “crown jewel,” the Monaco Grand Prix has been canceled.

The Dutch Grand Prix, due to return to the calendar for the first time since 1985, was set to be held at Zandvoort on May 1-3, with the Spanish race following a week later, and the Monaco Grand Prix on May 21-24.

“Formula 1, the FIA, and the three promoters have taken these decisions in order to ensure the health and safety of the travelling staff, championship participants and fans, which remains our primary concern,” Formula 1 said in a statement.

Ross Brawn, the Formula 1 Managing Director of Motorsports and Technical Director also presented several possible solutions to salvage the 2020 season including removing the August summer break, shortening the race calendar, or even changing the race format from the current three-day format to a two-day format.

COVID-19 has also affected Formula 1’s plans to overhaul its rules. Sweeping rule changes that were supposed to take effect by the 2021 season will be pushed back instead to 2022. This decision was reached by Formula 1, the FIA, and all 10 teams.

“All parties further discussed the current situation of the 2020 championship and how the sport will react to the ongoing challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the FIA in a statement.

 “Due to the currently volatile financial situation this has created, it has been agreed that teams will use their 2020 chassis for 2021, with the potential freezing of further components to be discussed in due course.

“The introduction and implementation of the financial regulations will go ahead as planned in 2021, and discussions remain ongoing between the FIA, Formula 1 and all teams regarding further ways to make significant cost savings.

“All teams expressed their support for the FIA and Formula 1 in their ongoing efforts to restructure the 2020 calendar as the global situation regarding COVID-19 develops.

“All of these commitments will be referred to the relevant governing structures for final ratification.”

The decision to delay the rule changes for the 2022 season may have some ramifications for teams such as McLaren who was supposed to be switching engine supplier from Renault to Mercedes-AMG in 2021 in light of the new rule changes.

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