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F1 drivers fully support 'ghost races': GPDA chief

Rediff News 2020-05-23 15:44:00

IMAGE: Image used for representational purposes. Photograph: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Formula One drivers fully support plans to start the season with "ghost races" behind closed doors, according to Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA) chairman Alex Wurz.

The sport aims to kick off a season delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic with two back-to-back races without spectators at Austria's Red Bull Ring in July.

More races under similar conditions will then be held in Europe with the sport also hoping some races can happen in Asia, the Middle East and Americas.

Wurz, an Austrian, told Sky Sports television the drivers would rather race in front of a crowd but understood why that was not possible in such 'strange times'.

"I think no one in motorsport, no driver, and personally me definitely not, is a fan of 'ghost races'," added the former Benetton and McLaren driver.


"However, all the drivers I have spoken to, and I’m constantly in talks with all of them, no one has said 'No, I don’t want to do it' or 'I feel it’s the wrong thing to do'.

"Ghost races are a means to get us back on track earlier than if we wait for fan-attended races. Therefore, we are looking for ghost races, and all the drivers accept fully."

Formula One has so far seen three races cancelled, including the Monaco showcase that would have been this weekend, and seven postponed.

The plan is for teams, mostly Britain-based, to travel to Austria on charter flights and not to come into contact with the local population.

Wurz said holding races, even in such circumstances, was the right thing to do.

"Formula One is a global industry, and like every government in the world, we are all trying to kick-start the industry, the economy, because people, families, mortgages depend on it. And it’s the same in F1," he said.

Formula One teams agree cost-cutting measures - BBC

Formula One's 10 teams have agreed cost-cutting measures including a budget cap of $145 million (119 million pounds) for 2021, the BBC reported on Friday.

The measures have yet to be approved officially by the governing FIA's World Motor Sport Council, by an e-vote due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that is seen as a formality and likely next week.

Formula One's managing director for motorsport Ross Brawn said this month that the $145 million figure had been agreed and the sport would look for further reductions in future seasons.

The BBC and, citing multiple sources, said teams had agreed to reduce the cap to $140 million in 2022 and $135 million for the period 2023-25.

Formula One's season has yet to start, with the first 10 races postponed or cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A major rewrite of the technical regulations has been delayed to 2022, with teams carrying over this year's cars to 2021.

The budget cap, which does not include driver salaries, had been set initially at $175 million but some teams had wanted a more drastic limit closer to $100 million to ensure the sport survives the crisis.

F1, Silverstone still optimistic despite UK quarantine rules

Formula One remains hopeful about the chances of racing at Britain's Silverstone circuit in July and August despite quarantine measures confirmed on Friday.

Interior Minister Priti Patel said a 14-day quarantine will be introduced from June 8 for travellers arriving from abroad to guard against a resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

No exemptions for sport were mentioned, with soccer clubs competing in Europe also potentially affected, but a Formula One spokesman and Silverstone manager Stuart Pringle said talks were continuing.

"We have been working closely with government on the implications of the policy for Formula One and Silverstone," said the spokesman.

"Those discussions are ongoing at this time with the aim of finding a solution with safety as our first priority."

Pringle told Sky Sports television that he was hopeful of a solution.

"I am very clear that the importance of the industry is understood by government," he said.

"So I remain optimistic that a sensible and pragmatic solution, which puts the onus on the sport quite rightly to come up with the right solution, can be found."

Formula One's season has yet to start, with three races cancelled -- including the showcase Monaco Grand Prix that would have been held this weekend -- and seven others postponed.

The sport hopes to get going in Austria in carefully controlled conditions, and using charter flights, with back to back races on July 5 and 12 before two more at Silverstone likely on July 26 and Aug. 2.

While seven of the 10 teams are based in Britain, a two week quarantine would pose problems for Italy-based Ferrari and AlphaTauri as well as Alfa Romeo, whose team operate out of Switzerland.

Quarantine would also make it hard for teams to come and go on a tight schedule.

Pringle said Silverstone, a home race for Mercedes' six times world champion Lewis Hamilton and this year celebrating the 70th anniversary of hosting the first world championship race, had flexibility but Formula One needed to be sure of movement.

"We can accommodate later dates in August if required, possibly even into September conceptually," he said.

"But it's not so much about what we can's can the championship piece together a calendar that allows them to go from country to country?

"And can they have the confidence to commit to that in a timescale that allows the freighting plan to come together because it's the logistics that are the key to getting this championship underway."