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Further F1 cancellations/postponements.

Discussion in 'Sports' started by Swami, Mar 19, 2020.

  1. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Supreme

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    Coronavirus: Monaco Grand Prix cancelled, Dutch and Spanish races postponed
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    Lewis Hamilton won the 2019 Monaco Grand Prix
    The Monaco Grand Prix has been cancelled and the Dutch and Spanish races have been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

    The first four races in Australia, Bahrain, Vietnam and China had already been called off due to the pandemic.

    The sport's governing body, the FIA, says it expects the 2020 season to begin "as soon as it is safe to do so after May".


    Monaco organisers said it was "not possible" to rearrange a date.

    It is still hoped the other two races can be rescheduled later in the year.

    In a joint statement with F1 and the race promoters, it said decisions were taken "to ensure the health and safety of travelling staff, participants and fans".

    The decision comes at the end of a seismic week of developments in F1.

    The season-opening Australian Grand Prix last weekend had to be called off after a McLaren team member tested positive for coronavirus in Melbourne and a total of 16 members of that team had to go into quarantine.

    The decision to call off the following races in Bahrain and Vietnam followed within a few hours, while the Chinese Grand Prix had already been postponed in February following the virus outbreak in that country.

    Since then, the sport has shifted its "summer break" forward to March and April to free up time to fit as many races into this year as possible once the season can resume, and the teams, F1 and the FIA have agreed to delay the introduction of a major set of rule changes by a year until 2022 to keep costs down.

    A year has to have a minimum of eight grands prix to count as a World Championship.

    F1 has a working plan to try to start the season with the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on 7 June, but this may not be possible given the rapidly escalating coronavirus problem around the world.

    Bosses are considering all possibilities - it is likely races will be run on a number of consecutive weekends, and be grouped together geographically as much as possible to facilitate that approach.

    And some races are more likely than others to fall by the wayside as the calendar shifts.

    The most vulnerable are the Spanish, Brazilian, Chinese and Australian Grands Prix.

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  2. Swami

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    Canadian Grand Prix ninth race off amid coronavirus crisis
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    By Andrew Benson

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    Lewis Hamilton won the 2019 Canadian Grand Prix
    The Canadian Grand Prix has become the latest Formula 1 race to be postponed as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

    The Montreal event is the ninth race to be affected so far this season.

    It was due to be held on 14 June, but organisers had to make a decision now because of the length of time required to set up the track.


    Attempts will be made to find a slot for the popular race on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve at the earliest opportunity in the summer.

    Canadian Grand Prix president Francois Dumontier said: "I am proud to see how such wonderful initiatives and technical advancements stemming from Formula 1 are being applied in a time of crisis.

    "At the moment it is crucial that all of our energies be put together to overcome Covid-19. We will welcome you with open arms at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve as soon as it is safe to do so."

    F1 is beholden to the climatological conditions in race locations as it seeks to reconstitute a calendar that contains at least the eight events required for the season to be classified as a World Championship.

    The summers are warm in Montreal, but the Quebec city has bitterly cold and long winters.

    The Canadian Grand Prix was held in early October when Montreal first held the race in 1978, and then on the last weekend in September in the subsequent three years, but the weather was often cold and by 1982 it was moved to its now-traditional June date.

    The postponement means the first scheduled race not to be either postponed or cancelled is the French Grand Prix on 26 June, but the social distancing policies in place around much of the world make it uncertain when the season can finally get under way.

    The next scheduled race after that is the Austrian Grand Prix on 5 July. Austria appears to be on course to be the first European country to gradually ease lockdown restrictions, although public events remain suspended until the end of June.

    The British Grand Prix is next on the calendar on 19 July, and Silverstone has said it has until the end of April before it has to make a decision whether to postpone that date.

    Silverstone has been in talks with F1 and is being considered as a likely starting point for the season in July or August, not least because seven of the 10 teams are based nearby in the south-east of England.

    There have also been discussions about running two grands prix at Silverstone, the official British Grand Prix and a second event with a different title.

    F1 is considering all options as it seeks to kick off the season, including holding races behind closed doors.

    The sport has been taking major steps as it seeks to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus crisis, which significantly threatens F1's three main income streams - race-hosting fees, broadcast rights and sponsorship.

    A substantial regulation change planned for 2021 has been postponed by a year, teams will have to use their 2020 cars again in 2021 and there are ongoing talks about lowering the new budget cap, which is set to be introduced at $175m (£142m) in 2021.

    The McLaren, Williams and Racing Point teams have put a significant proportion of staff on furlough and their drivers have taken pay cuts, and F1 has done the same, with senior executives taking a salary drop of at least 20%.

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  3. Swami

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    Formula 1: French Grand Prix set to be postponed because of coronavirus crisis
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    By Andrew Benson

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    Lewis Hamilton beat Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc to win the 2019 French Grand Prix
    The French Grand Prix is set to be the next Formula 1 event to be postponed as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

    French President Emmanuel Macron said in a televised address to the nation on Monday that restrictions on public events would continue until mid-July.

    France's round of the F1 championship is due to be held at the Circuit Paul Ricard, near Marseille, on 28 June.


    F1 was unable to officially confirm the situation surrounding the race when contacted by BBC Sport.

    Macron said France's lockdown would be extended until 11 May, after which creches and schools would progressively reopen, while bars, restaurants, and cinemas would stay shut. There would be no summer festivals "before mid-July".

    The move seems to make it impossible to hold an event that was attended by 135,000 people last year.

    The race would be the 10th grand prix to be called off at the start of a season that has been laid waste by the coronavirus crisis.

    F1 says it is considering all options as it looks for a way to reconfigure the season later this year.

    The hope is the season can start in Europe in the summer, and it is possible that the first races at least could be held behind closed doors.

    Ross Brawn, F1's managing director, said last week that a viable World Championship season could be held before the end of the year, even if the first race did not take until October. But he added that the season could run into January 2021 to fit in more races.

    F1 is facing a serious financial shortfall as a result of the lack of racing as all three of its main revenue streams are under threat - race-hosting fees, broadcast rights and sponsorship income.

    Only one race has so far been cancelled permanently, with Monaco deciding to give up on its event this year because it said it could not find a suitable alternative slot.

    All the others have been postponed in the hope of finding alternative dates once racing can get under way.

    The F1 teams are on a factory shutdown, having brought the traditional summer break forward from August so as to be in the best place possible once travel restrictions are lifted.

    Five of the seven UK-based teams have placed many of their staff on enforced leave as a result of the lack of action.

    And F1's bosses have taken a series of steps to cut costs with the future so uncertain.

    Measures include the postponement by a year of a major regulation change that was scheduled to come into force in 2021, and the requirement for teams to use the same cars for the 2021 season as they will this year.

    And bosses are in the midst of negotiations over lowering the budget cap that is set to come into force next year at $175m (£137.9m).

    A reduction to $150m has already been agreed informally and there is a meeting scheduled for this week to discuss the idea of potentially reducing it to $125m.

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  4. Swami

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    Formula 1: A Silverstone bonanza and desert double for the 2020 season?
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    By Andrew Benson

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    More than 140,000 fans came to Silverstone to watch the British Grand Prix last year
    Formula 1 has laid out its ambition to start up the season in early July, by which time it hopes the coronavirus crisis will be sufficiently under control for the sport to go racing, albeit under significant restrictions.

    F1 boss Chase Carey hopes to complete a season of at least 16 races in a year that has been laid waste by the coronavirus crisis, but there are complications around what national governments will allow F1 to do, how it might do it, and the restrictions it would have to work under.

    So how would this work? BBC Sport has been talking to insiders in an attempt to put a shape to the season F1 hopes will come.


    How would the season start off?
    Plans are inevitably not firm, as the medical situation in countries around the world is changing all the time.

    But under the current trajectory, with many European countries looking to be going down the backside of the coronavirus infection curve, F1 has sketched out a plan for a few races in Europe to start the season off in the summer and then a sweep east, a dip into the Americas before rounding off the season in the Middle East in December.

    Easy to say; not quite so easy to do.

    The plan for Europe - where Monaco has already announced it will not hold a race this year - is relatively straightforward, at least to start with.

    Carey has already announced its intention to start the season in Austria on 3-5 July. What has not been announced, but is in the works, is a plan for a second race in Austria on 12 July, followed by two at Silverstone on 19 and 26 July.

    These four events would be behind closed doors - so no paying spectators and no corporate guests - and F1 is discussing with the authorities in each country how it might safely move in enough people to stage a race.

    Will this require F1 personnel to be tested for coronavirus before they travel and to socially distance from the local population while there? Quite possibly.

    After that, the next races could be in Spain, Hungary and France, or a selection thereof, depending on where each country is in its virus recovery phase.

    France's nuanced announcement on Monday that its race was off does not preclude the fact that talks are ongoing about holding a race at the Paul Ricard circuit later in the summer - it would just not be the official French Grand Prix.

    Then there are question marks over the two most historic races in the calendar, the Belgian and Italian Grands Prix.

    Spa is looking shaky. Belgium has extended its ban on mass gatherings to the end of August, which means its race would have to be in September, and that gives a very small weather window to hold it in the Ardennes mountains - and knock-on logistical problems for the rest of the season.

    The revived Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, due to be held this year for the first time since 1985 to ride the wave of Max Verstappen-mania, also looks in serious doubt, after that country also extended mass-gathering restrictions until the autumn.

    As far as Italy goes, it was the epicentre of coronavirus in Europe and that has left its scars, so F1 is particularly aware of the potential sensitivities of holding an Italian Grand Prix.

    On the other hand, there is political pressure to hold the race, from both Ferrari and TV company Sky Italia, sources say. And because of the importance of both F1 and Ferrari in national life in Italy, there is an argument that a grand prix could give the country a much-needed boost.

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    Could the inaugural Vietnamese GP make a comeback after being postponed from its original April date?
    What about after Europe?
    Two other races pretty much have to be held in September if they are to happen - Canada and Singapore, for different reasons.

    The issue in Montreal is that the winter sets in early and is harsh. So anything beyond the first weekend in October, when the race was held when it first came on to the calendar in 1978, would be too big a risk weather-wise.

    Singapore, meanwhile, because it's a street race that causes major disruption to the city state, has to be held on its scheduled date of 20 September, or not at all.

    That means that in all likelihood only one of those two races can be held before F1 heads off around the world region by region.

    First, the Russian and Azerbaijan Grands Prix in Sochi and Baku, in late September/early October. Then, to Asia, and ideally all three of Japan, Vietnam and China.

    After that, it would be on to North America and the US and Mexican races in Austin, Texas, and Mexico City, followed by Brazil. And then the Middle East for the final two races in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi, ideally in December.

    Vietnam could move to before Bahrain to ease congestion a little.

    It should be emphasised that this is merely a reflection of current thinking, and much could change in the intervening months.

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    Thinking, thinking, thinking: F1 CEO Carey is dealing with quite a scheduling headache
    Sounds ambitious - how practical is this?
    Under normal conditions, the logistics of moving the teams and personnel around the world would be do-able, although the schedule will be extremely crammed and brutal for those involved.

    The real difficulties surround what each country in question will expect from F1 in terms of controlling the virus, even assuming they feel a race could be held. Talks with all the government bodies involved will be required.

    F1 is exploring all the ways in which it can reassure countries that it will not be a drain on their resources or contribute to spreading the coronavirus, as well as be certain its own personnel remain safe and healthy.

    This could mean an intra-sport virus testing programme, the use of charter flights instead of scheduled, and restrictions on the number of people working at the race - including being selective about which media are able to attend, once F1 feels it becomes possible to let the media in at all, which may well not be the case at the start of the season.

    Teams are looking at how far they can strip back their operations so that only people necessary to operate the cars go to the races. Keeping the media out and running the events simply as a pure television sporting spectacle, at least at the start of the season, is one key way of doing that because it removes the need for marketing and public relations to attend.

    As for getting driver and team principal reaction out to the media and public, these could be filmed by F1's own staff for television, while teams could hold online news conferences.

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    Moving all the thousands of tonnes of freight around the world should be do-able. The difficult thing could be the movement of people
    What about the money side?
    How will all this work in the context of F1's business model?

    Fees paid by race promoters and television broadcasters account for 68% of F1's income - 38% from TV rights; 30% from race-hosting fees.

    The teams are paid 63% of F1's income and that collective pot of about $1bn is a huge part of their overall revenue. No races would mean virtually no money. So it's pretty obvious why it is so important for the sport to get back to racing as soon as is practicably possible.

    But that raises questions about some of the races.

    Take Silverstone, for example. It has spent years saying it could barely afford the British Grand Prix and, even after negotiating a new contract last year, it needs big crowds to turn even a small profit on hosting the race.

    So if Silverstone can barely afford to host one grand prix with 140,000 paying spectators, how can it suddenly host two a week apart with none?

    The answer is that F1 will look to effectively rent the circuit from the British Racing Drivers' Club, offsetting the losses the track will incur from not having any ticket sales.

    This is an example of how F1 owner Liberty Media will have to dip into its own pocket to some degree to ensure the survival of the sport through this year, although there are only so many times it can do this without causing more problems than it solves.

    A complex series of internal transactions within the Liberty Media Group last week gave F1 significantly more available cash to ride out these difficulties.

    At the other end of the scale from Silverstone are races that are funded largely or entirely by the relevant government of that country or region as a global promotional tool.

    In these cases, ticket sales offset the total cost to varying degrees, depending on the size of the crowd. But they are nowhere near as important to the overall business plan as they are for Silverstone or the US Grand Prix, for example.

    For the likes of Abu Dhabi, Azerbaijan, Bahrain and Russia, as long as the grand prix happens, the promoters will almost certainly be happy to pay, as the overarching purpose of the race will still be satisfied, whether there are spectators or not.

    TV rights money plays a big part in this picture, too.

    Contracts are said to dictate fees must be paid in full as long as there are at least 16 races, with a sliding scale down as the number of races dips below that.

    That explains F1's eagerness to pack the start of the season with double-race events, so it is easier to get to that magic number as the season progresses.

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  5. Swami

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    Formula 1: Hungarian Grand Prix to be held without fans
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    Britain's Lewis Hamilton won the 2019 Hungarian Grand Prix
    Hungarian Grand Prix organisers have said the race will have to be held without spectators this year as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

    The country's government announced on Thursday a ban on all gatherings of more than 500 people until 15 August.

    Organisers said they had "pursued all possible ways" to stage the event with fans but this was "no longer possible".


    They added: "It is now evident that any F1 race in Hungary can now only be held behind closed doors."

    The statement said that holding a race without spectators was "not an ideal scenario [but] we do believe that staging the event behind closed doors - which our fans can still watch on television - is preferable to not having a race at all.

    "Furthermore, it will also ensure that a global audience of millions can still watch the race taking place in Hungary via F1's vast international broadcast coverage. As such, we are continuing our working with F1 to try and find a way to make this possible."

    A race at the Hungaroring is part of Formula 1's plans to revive the 2020 championship this summer, once conditions in enough countries allow.

    The race was originally scheduled for 2 August, but the F1 calendar has been almost completely ripped up, and published dates effectively irrelevant, as the sport's bosses seek to re-shape the season and fit in enough races for a legitimate championship.

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    Hamilton has won in Hungary a staggering seven times - more than any other driver
    Insiders have told BBC Sport that Hungarian organisers are confident their race will be able to go ahead at a date later in the summer.

    Organisers believe the grand prix could run as a closed event and be allowed more than 500 people as without spectators it would be classed as a broadcast operation not an event.

    And the date they are working on with F1 is after the current restrictions end.

    Hungary has become the second race to announce that it will be held without fans, after Silverstone.

    F1 bosses are planning for a season to start with two races at Austria's Red Bull Ring on 5 and 12 July, followed by two at Silverstone on 19 and 26 July.

    There would then be a week off before further races in Europe.

    Hopes of holding a race in France, despite the cancellation of the official French Grand Prix earlier this week, were apparently dashed when the country banned all sporting events, even those behind closed doors, until the end of August.

    But Spain and Italy are among the European countries other than Hungary that could host races, before F1 heads off to Russia, Azerbaijan, Asia, the Americas and the Middle East, as long as the virus situation in those areas allows at the time.

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  6. Swami

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    Dutch Grand Prix cancelled because of coronavirus pandemic






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    The race was set to take place at the historic Zandvoort circuit
    The 2020 Dutch Grand Prix has been cancelled because of the global coronavirus pandemic.

    The race - returning to the Formula 1 calendar for the first time since 1985 - was due to be held on 3 May but was initially postponed.

    "We were completely ready for this race and we still are," said Dutch Grand Prix sports director Jan Lammers.


    "We ask everyone to be patient. I had to look forward to it for 35 years, so I can wait another year.

    "We and Formula 1 have investigated the potential to hold a rescheduled race this year without spectators, but we would like to celebrate this moment, the return of Formula 1 in Zandvoort, together with our racing fans in the Netherlands."

    F1 bosses are still in the process of putting together a revised calendar for this season.

    Two races at Silverstone have been agreed - provided the British government's quarantine rules can exempt major sporting events.

    Belgium is another one of the countries at which F1 hopes to hold a race, after Austria was agreed before the Silverstone deal.

    Among the other potential hosts are the tracks originally intended to hold races this year in Spain, Hungary, France and Italy.

    Hockenheim in Germany, which was not on the original schedule, is on standby in case there is a vacant slot other tracks cannot fill.

    Each of the 10 teams will be limited to a maximum of 80 people each at races held without spectators when the delayed season gets going in July.

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