FIA extends shutdown and postpones the Canadian GP

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The FIA and Formula 1 announced on Tuesday the postponement of the Canadian Grand Prix, scheduled for June 14 while the shutdown period has also been extended.

During a video conference on 19 March, the FIA, Formula 1 and the teams agreed to bring the sport’s traditional two-week summer shutdown forward to March/April in order to make the summer available for races to be staged. The shutdown when teams are prohibited to carry out any work aimed at the performance of their race machines had been extended to three weeks. It has also been agreed that not only the chassis departments of the teams have to shut down, but engine manufacturers are also required to terminate their operations.

As the coronavirus crisis has shown no signs of peaking, FIA’s President Jean Todt held another video conference with the Commercial Rights’ Holder and the team leaders to revise the situation and discuss the next necessary measures. It has been agreed to extend the shutdown period from 21 to 35 days.

“Following unanimous approval by the Formula 1 Strategy Group, Commission and all teams, the World Motor Sport Council has ratified by e-vote the decision to extend the Formula 1 shutdown period from 21 to 35 days, to be taken in March, April and/or May, for all competitors and Power Unit manufacturers.”

“Further discussions regarding this topic remain open between the FIA, Formula 1 and all teams in light of the ongoing global impact of COVID-19,” an FIA statement read.

The extension means that the shutdown for teams and engine manufacturers are taking place in March, April and/or May. Ferrari, Haas, and Mercedes started their shutdown on the first possible day, March 19 while Alfa Romeo and AlphaTauri followed them four days later. McLaren and Racing Point commenced their break on March 25 with Williams following them on the following day.

Red Bull was the last team to terminate its operations by shutting down its factory on March 27. Renault was the only team to apply two different dates for the start of its shutdown by terminating the work at its engine department at Viry-Chatillon on March 20 and starting its break at its Enstone chassis facility on March 30.

Next to the extension of the shutdown period, the lowering of the cost cap which comes in from 2021 and the delay of the technical rules overhaul until 2023 have also been discussed, but the teams’ opinions are still divided in those matters.

Further delay to the season

The organizers of the Canadian Grand Prix have confirmed the postponement of the race at Montreal that was due to take place on June 14. Following the cancellations and postponements of the first eight races of the season, the Canadian GP was due to kick off the delayed 2020 season, but the ongoing coronavirus crisis made it impossible for the semi-street track to host the spectacular race.

While the Australian and the Monaco Grands Prix have been cancelled for this season due to the very specific demands of those circuits, the postponement of the Canadian Grand Prix means that it can reappear on the calendar later in the season. However, being a semi-street venue, the organizers need more time to prepare the race than it is needed on purpose-built tracks. Chief of the Canadian Grand Prix Promoter Francois Dumontier indicated previously that his team needs a time frame of around eight weeks to prepare the event.

The delay of the race in North America leaves the French Grand Prix, set for June 28, as the new opening round of the 2020 F1 season, albeit the race at Paul Ricard also looks under threat given that travel restrictions are practically locking down citizens in Europe.