Motor racing-Formula One considering delay to 2021 rules


LONDON (Reuters) – Formula One could push back a major rules revamp to 2022 on Thursday with bosses and teams discussing by telephone the impact of the spreading coronavirus on this season and next.

Ferrari principal Mattia Binotto told the website that his Italian team, who started a three-week factory shutdown on Thursday after Formula One canceled the August break, was willing to do what was necessary.

“We will have a conference call with all the other teams, F1 and (governing body) FIA to discuss the situation and the impact it has not only on this season but also on the next one,” he said.

“We must carefully evaluate every aspect and see if it is not really the case to think about possibly postponing the introduction of the new 2021 technical rules.

“In any case, Ferrari is ready to take responsibility for a choice that must be made in the ultimate interest of this sport, it is certainly not the time for selfishness and tactics.”

The sport is due to introduce major technical and sporting changes next year, along with a cost cap and restructured governance.

The change, one of the biggest in the sport’s recent history and years in the making, is aimed at leveling the playing field and improving the racing.

Teams face significant financial pressures, however, as they devote resources to designing radically different cars for 2021 while also developing the 2020 ones.

Privately-run outfits, such as former champions Williams who finished last in 2019, are already operating on tight budgets that risk shrinking further following the cancellation and postponement of races.

Teams get much of their income from the sport’s overall revenues.

Multiple sources told Reuters that postponing the 2021 regulations by a year was on the agenda, along with race rescheduling.

Formula One’s commercial managing director Ross Brawn told Sky Sports F1 television recently that weekends could be condensed in a restructured calendar.

“I think by freeing up the August break, we give ourselves several weekends where we can have a race. And I think we can build a pretty decent calendar for the rest of the year,” said the Briton.

“One thing we have been talking about is two-day weekends, and therefore if we have a triple header (three races on successive Sundays) with two-day weekends, that could be an option.

“I think what we need from the teams this year is flexibility, I think they’ve got to give some scope to do these things… we’ve got to make sure we’ve got a season that gives a good economic opportunity for the teams.”

Formula One is hoping to start racing again at the end of May, subject to review, but what was billed as a record 22-race season has already lost the Australian opener with three other rounds postponed so far.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis