While the world is still battling the coronavirus outbreak, Formula 1 and the FIA are working on a revised calendar for the delayed F1 season in order to promote the financial stability of the sport.
The postponement of the first nine races has already led to a significant loss of income for the Commercial Rights Holder and the teams with further complications and setbacks expected due to ongoing virus. The sport has introduced key measures including the delay of the new technical regulation, the retention of the 2020 chassis for next year and the shifting and extension of the traditional summer shutdown.
While the measures have helped ease the financial burden on F1 outfits, they might not be enough for the longer term. The income that teams received from the Commercial Rights Holder is sourced from the prize money, broadcast revenue and race fees. However, these sources are dependent on races taking place.
Speaking in an interview with Sky Sports News Williams’ deputy team principal Claire Williams warned that it is financially “critical” for smaller, independent teams that grands prix take place in order to generate income.
"Clearly big part of that is about when we are able to go racing again, particularly for a team like ours. We're one of the true independents left, we don't have the backing that the majority of our competitors have up and down the grid. For us, going racing is absolutely critical this year. But as I said, it has to be when it's safe to do so.
Despite the urgency, Williams is aware that the safety of everyone involved in the sport must be the absolute priority. "We have to wait obviously until the time is right to it's safe to do so. It's an incredibly tough environment that F1 finds itself in right now.
"We have spent so much time locked into meetings, the team principals together with the FIA and F1, over the past four weeks to ensure we do absolutely everything we need to do to make sure all of us come out of this at the end of this year unscathed. We just hope that we can get back to the race track this year, go racing, and really for us, we can take it from there,” she said.
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Agreeing with Claire Williams, AlphaTauri team boss Franz Tost thinks that F1 outfits can cope with the financial situation for the moment, but it could be critical if racing cannot resume in Summer.
"The contracts are designed in such a way that we lose revenue proportionately if races are not run, because the agreed amount is then reduced.”
With the delay to the 2020 F1 season, teams face massive financial losses as the majority of their income is generated by grands prix. The Austrian believes that the problems are getting more serious by every race weekend being called off. "If we don't drive a grand prix, [the estimate is] it will cost one and a half to two million," he is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com.Austria and Silverstone offer their help
Austria and Silverstone are still the only two countries to be willing to host races in the near future. The coronavirus outbreak caused the postponement and cancellation of the first nine grands prix with the growing uncertainty about the possible start of the delayed 2020 season.
Although the French Grand Prix is the first event on the calendar following the postponements of races, the event looks to be under growing threat after the restrictions in France have been extended. That could leave Austria with the chance of kicking off the F1 season in 2020. Red Bull Racing’s driver advisor Helmut Marko is confident that the Austrian Grand Prix could be staged.
"The Formula 1 community is afraid of being infected and wants to isolate itself as much as possible. At the same time that's good, because the population is also afraid of being infected. Everyone is afraid and therefore everyone will be extremely careful," he is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com
While the restrictions could mean that F1 outfits will be asked to travel with a reduced number of team members, Marko thinks that the F2, F3 and Porsche Supercup series should be part of the race weekend. It is also possible that the Spielberg circuit will host two races, one on July 5 and the second one on July 12. In order to adhere to the restrictions, teams could be accommodated in hotels near the circuit.
Speaking to The Guardian, Silverstone boss Stuart Pringle said that the iconic British circuit is open to a wide variety of scenarios in terms of timing and number of races.
“We have discussed all sorts of permutations including hosting two races over one weekend and two races over consecutive weekends. I have complete confidence in our ability to put on these events. We have a lot of experience, a lot of knowledge, we can turn that on definitely,” he said.
Pringle also added that he has been asked by F1 bosses whether Silverstone could host a race or two behind closed doors. With Silverstone and Austria open to racing, it looks possible that the F1 season kicks off with two double-headers in both countries.