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Teams stock up on the soft tyre for the Australian Grand Prix

Teams stock up on the soft tyre for the Australian Grand Prix

Formula 1 teams have stocked up on the soft compound for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

F1’s sole tyre supplier, Pirelli, has made available the C4 (Soft), C3 (Medium) and C2 (Hard) compounds for the race, scheduled for next weekend.

Amongst the front-running teams, Mercedes has taken the highest number of red-walled soft tyres at 10 per driver with both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas taking just two of the medium and one set of hards.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel differ slightly, with nine sets of the soft whilst Leclerc has taken three sets of the yellow-medium and Vettel two.

Both Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon have matched Leclerc’s selection.

No driver has taken more than two sets of the hard compound, which is no surprise given the nature of the Albert Park circuit which is a high-speed temporary street circuit.

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Mercedes aims to be carbon neutral by end of 2020

Mercedes aims to be carbon neutral by end of 2020

Mercedes says that its Formula 1 operation will have a net-zero carbon footprint before the end of the 2020 season.
The Stuttgart manufacturer has announced details of a sustainable business plan for its motorsport activities, which follows on from a wider initiative launched last November by the F1 organisation.

But while the latter's aim is for the sport as a whole to be carbon neutral by 2030, Mercedes says it can achieve that target with its F1 team and the HPP engine division within this year.

It has already taken steps such as using renewable energy sources for its facilities in Brackley and Brixworth. The former has already made the switch, while the latter will complete the move later this year.

"We have taken the challenge on in trying to be net carbon zero in 2020," said team principal Toto Wolff.

"By this summer, we will be receiving all our energy from renewable sources, which is something that we are very proud of.

"[There are] little deep gains that you can around not using plastics, and trying to optimize our carbon footprint generally by using different generators, and fuelling them in a different way.

"We will be net carbon zero as a team by the end of 2020. And that is something that we are very proud of, and shows that it's going in the right direction."

Lewis Hamilton hopes that his team's push to become carbon neutral by the end of 2020 will be a catalyst for others in the sport to follow suit.

Hamilton has long been keen to promote sustainability, and has adjusted his lifestyle with new travel arrangements and a plant-only diet.

"I think naturally there can be criticism from the outside, but from my part, I feel my strength is that I'm able to help change it from within," said the World Champion.

"So being very close within the organization trying to push for these changes, which I've been very vocal about for quite some time.

"I think about like the future of my nieces and nephew, and what kind of world they're going to grow up in. And I'm trying to really use my platform and my voice really just trying to raise awareness and shift the mindset of these industries in a positive direction."

Asked about the future of F1 he said: "I'm very fortunate that I get to work very, very closely with Toto and the team. And Mercedes, it's great to see the communication is constantly improving within our organisation.

"Now Toto is talking about this year being carbon neutral. and being the leaders in our industry, I think that's really, really key and important.

"Because I think in us making a change and taking action, I think the others will react and do the same thing. So we're starting that, I'd like to think we've kind of been the catalyst in that movement."

Hamilton also made an intriguing reference to a possible electric future for F1.

"We've gone from a V8, [and] we now use a third less fuel than before. The developments that are coming in the future are going to be really, really interesting. If F1 will be 'FE1' at some stage? Probably not in my racing career. But beyond, for sure, I think it's got a really bright future."

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"Naive" Racing Point critics "haven't stepped up to the plate"

"Naive" Racing Point critics "haven't stepped up to the plate"

Racing Point’s rivals were "naive" to think that the cash injection the team has had under Lawrence Stroll’s ownership wasn’t going to help it make big progress, says technical director Andrew Green.
The extra funds that have been on tap since Stroll bought the outfit at the end of 2018 have enabled Racing Point to build a Mercedes ‘clone’ this year – and its pace has been clear in pre-season testing.

And while some of its competitors are unhappy with what Racing Point has done, the Silverstone-based team says any politicking over its approach does not worry it at all.

Green reckons that complaints have been fuelled by other teams having simply not delivered.

“I think it boils down to the fact that some of the teams may have not done as good a job as they should have done,” said Green.

“We are a team that finished fourth, two years on the trot, with next to no money at all. We were absolutely hand to mouth, and we [still] finished fourth in the championship.

“We showed we can do that with next to nothing. So for people to think that take a team like that, inject money and resources in, and it wasn't going to improve is naive.

“I think they just haven't stepped up to the plate. I think a lot of their frustration is probably looking inward and going ‘crikey, we haven't done a good job’. That is what I would be thinking if I was looking from the outside in. I would be looking at my aero department and going, ‘come on guys, what on earth have you been playing at?’ ”

Racing Point is well aware that the more successful its start to the season is, the more likely it is that rivals will play politics over its car.

But Green remains defiant that his team has played totally by the rules, and has done something than any other outfit could have done themselves.

“I don't know what they've got to complain about,” he said. “What we've done is completely legal. All we are doing is racing with the rules that are written, which I think is the idea of the game.

“We've been given a set of rules, we're going as fast as we can. And if other teams haven't taken the route that we've taken for some reasons unknown to us, that's their decision. They had the opportunity to do exactly what we did but they elected not to for reasons I don't know.

“It's something that we've been wanting to do for a very long time but haven't had the budget to do. This was a natural thing for us to do.”

He added: “It gives me encouragement that people are talking about us and people are complaining about us. That is a good indication to me that we're doing something really good. If we were at the bottom of the pack, no one will be mentioning what we have done at all.”

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Haas: Start to season will decide F1 team’s future

Haas: Start to season will decide F1 team’s future

Gene Haas says his team's start to the new season will decide whether or not he commits it to staying in Formula 1 beyond the end of this year.
The American has long been clear that he is only interested in continuing to invest in F1 if his outfit can be competitive, and he is concerned about the huge costs being forced on small outfit by the new 2021 rules.

With F1 entering a new era, Haas knows that if he continues after this season, he will have to commit for a five-year period like all other teams.

In an exclusive interview with Motorsport.com during Sunday's NASCAR race at Fontana, Haas said he was juggling the investment needed to stay in F1 against its competitive fortune.

"I'm just kind of waiting to see how this season starts off," he said when asked about what his thoughts were for the future. 

"If we have another bad year, then it would not be that favourable [to stay].

"We did five years. That was really the test – we're going to do this for five years, see how it goes and evaluate it and then we'll decide whether to go forward.

"I'm not saying we won't be back. It has to be evaluated. To do it for another five years, though, that would be a big commitment."

Romain Grosjean, Haas F1 Team, Gene Haas, Owner and Founder, Haas F1 Team and Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team at the unveiling of the Haas VF-20

Haas says that his team's stint in F1, which began in 2015, has been good for his wider business – but he is concerned about the impact of the 2021 regulation overhaul.

"It's helped quite a bit," he said about the business impact. "It gave us a lot of recognition in the European market and also a lot of the Asian markets.

"We've brought a lot of customers to the races. It's all worked out well. But with the new regulations coming in 2021, the big question is how much is that going to cost?

"There's so much change going on in Formula 1, you really have to ask yourself is it really going to be worth the expense to try to implement all these changes? I know everyone thinks the changes are good, but – boy – they're expensive.

"It's similar to what is going on here [in NASCAR]. The Gen 7 is a real departure from what (NASCAR) has done in the past. It's like anything else, they've changed so many aspects of the car, you just know there's going to be a lot of troubleshooting to get it right. It's difficult for the teams.

"These changes that they implement, I think they do it with the best of intentions but when you are on the other side of the equation trying to implement them, economically it's extremely difficult."

Despite the arrival of a budget cap in F1, Haas does not see his own costs coming down.

Asked if the sporting return was worth the financial investment, Haas said: "It's definitely not financially worth it, I can tell you that.

"The business model does not favour the smaller teams. As everybody knows with the way the money has been distributed 70 percent of it goes to the top three teams and 30 percent of it goes to the other seven teams. It's not a good economic model.

"At least in our condition, you're only paid about a third of what it actually costs to run a team in Formula 1. So, from a business model it doesn't do that well.

"Obviously, every team has a different nature as to why they do it. Some of it is primary sponsorship. Ferrari is that they've been doing it for 60 years.

"But they take home enough money to actually make the $175 million cap, but a lot of the other teams operate on a quarter of that. So, how can you really run a race team with that kind of disparity?"

With the midfield looking tight, Haas knows his outfit is in for a tough fight, but he still thinks there is a chance to do well.

"Our car certainly wasn't the fastest out there," he said about testing. "We were midfield. Several years ago, the midfield was like five seconds apart.

"This year they were about two seconds from each other, maybe even closer than that. I think really the only good news was that we weren't really that much slower than the Ferraris, but the Ferraris weren't at the top of the scoreboards every day, either.

"It's just a challenge. It's a difficult sport. It's extremely expensive. It's time consuming and it puts a huge amount of stress on the teams to compete. It's not really beneficial to the teams that aren't in the top four or five."

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Verstappen drives first lap of new-look Zandvoort in F1 car

Max Verstappen got the first taste of the new-look Zandvoort Circuit in The Netherlands, which will play host to the return of the Dutch Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver got behind the wheel of the championship-winning RB8 (2012) for a lap of the recently completed circuit, which has undergone a major refurbishment ahead of its F1 return.

The Dutchman completed a lap in the 1:22s, which means modern F1 cars will be well below that time and could well come close to the Red Bull Ring’s record lap time of 1:02, given they’re similar in length.

The circuit features two banked corners at Turn 3 (Hugenholtzbocht) and Turn 13 (Arie Luyendijkbocht), which have an angle of 18.7 degrees and 17.7 degrees respectively, forcing tyre supplier Pirelli to develop specific tyres for the grand prix.

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Zandvoort banking ‘very special’ – Verstappen

Zandvoort banking ‘very special’ – Verstappen

Max Verstappen has described Zandvoort’s banked corners as “very special” after he drove the first lap of the new-look circuit in a 2012 Red Bull RB8.

The Dutchman was present at his ‘home’ circuit to officially open it alongside Sporting Director of the Dutch Grand Prix Jan Lammers.

Speaking after completing a lap, Verstappen said: “All in all, it was very special. I liked it very much. In particular turn three and the last turn, that banking feels very special and there are many different lines that you can take in the turn. Really interesting.

The-Start-picture-Chris-Schotanus-.jpg

“The nice thing about turn 3 for example, is that it is so banked, that the inside of the corner completely falls away. When you arrive there, you don’t see the inside at all because you are sitting so low in the car. And then…how you take the rest of the turn, that’s really very different from what you’re used to.

“In general, it makes me very proud to drive here. I am really looking forward to the race in Zandvoort. I see the enthusiasm of my fans on the other circuits and it can only get better during the Dutch Grand Prix.”

The Dutch Grand Prix is currently scheduled to take place on May 3rd as the fourth round of the Formula 1 championship following the postponement of the Chinese GP due to the Coronavirus.

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Seven teams threaten legal action over FIA’s ‘private settlement’ with Ferrari

Seven teams threaten legal action over FIA’s ‘private settlement’ with Ferrari

Seven Formula 1 teams – those not powered by Ferrari engines – released a joint statement on Wednesday threatening legal action against the FIA over a private settlement it reached with Ferrari.

On the final day of pre-season testing, the governing body released a statement saying it had concluded an investigation into “the operation of the Scuderia Ferrari Formula 1 Power Unit”, following rivals claims that the team might be flouting the rules during the latter races of the 2019 season.

Following F1’s summer break, Ferrari arrived with a power unit upgrade and went on to deliver six consecutive pole positions, leading to rivals to insinuate that the manufacturer was bending the regulations, amid claims that the fuel flow sensor was being tricked, enabling more fuel to be delivered to the power unit.

The team was then penalised at the Abu Dhabi season finale when Ferrari was hit with a €50,000 fine after the team wrongly declared how much fuel was aboard Charles Leclerc’s car, prompting claims the two were related.

The power unit rules have since been revised for 2020, requiring teams to add a second fuel flow sensor to their power unit and some would suggest this has had an impact on Ferrari’s performance during pre-season testing.

The details of the FIA’s investigation have been kept private, prompting rivals Mercedes, McLaren, Red Bull, AphaTauri, Renault, Racing Point, and Williams to issue a joint statement saying they are “surprised and shocked” and have demanded the FIA be transparent on the matter, threatening legal action if necessary.

“We, the undersigned teams, were surprised and shocked by the FIA’s statement of Friday 28 February regarding the conclusion of its investigation into the Scuderia Ferrari Formula 1 Power Unit.

“An international sporting regulator has the responsibility to act with the highest standards of governance, integrity and transparency.

“After months of investigations that were undertaken by the FIA only following queries raised by other teams, we strongly object to the FIA reaching a confidential settlement agreement with Ferrari to conclude this matter.

“Therefore, we hereby state publicly our shared commitment to pursue full and proper disclosure in this matter, to ensure that our sport treats all competitors fairly and equally. We do so on behalf of the fans, the participants and the stakeholders of Formula One.

“In addition, we reserve our rights to seek legal redress, within the FIA’s due process and before the competent courts.”

McLaren Racing Limited
Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Limited
Racing Point UK Limited
Red Bull Racing Limited
Renault Sport Racing Limited
Scuderia Alpha Tauri S.p.A.
Williams Grand Prix Engineering Limited

The only teams not to sign the statement were Ferrari and its customer teams Haas and Alfa Romeo.

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F1 team the "foundation" of Aston's new strategy - Stroll

F1 team the "foundation" of Aston's new strategy - Stroll

Racing Point Formula 1 team owner Lawrence Stroll says that the Silverstone outfit will be the “foundation” of Aston Martin’s future plans when it gains works F1 status in 2021.
Stroll became a shareholder of Aston Martin Lagonda in January, along with a consortium of investors, and will shortly take on the role of executive chairman of the company.

Speaking in a video made to replace a planned event at the postponed Geneva Motor Show – in part to launch the new V12 Speedster – Stroll stressed just how important his racing team will be to Aston’s future strategy.

It includes sharing F1 technology with a new range of mid-engine supercars, which Stroll says was key to his decision to invest when he did his due diligence.

The company already has the Valhalla on the way for 2021, created in conjunction with Red Bull Technology.

Racing Point boss Otmar Szafnauer revealed recently that 100 Aston designers who previously worked at RBT will transfer to the new F1 facility at Silverstone, when it is completed next year.

Stroll made it clear that the F1 programme is at the heart of his marketing plans for Aston.

“As executive chairman I will ultimately be responsible for the strategy we are implementing,” said Stroll.

“The foundation of the strategy is returning Aston Martin to a works F1 team on the grid for 2021, operating under its own brand, enabling it to reach cumulative audiences of two billion people a year, and to engage and entertain our customers at 22 locations.

“It’s very exciting for all the parties, and should underpin the building of our brand globally, and allow us to achieve our ambition that Aston Martin will become a pre-eminent luxury goods brand globally.”

He added: “I think it’s much more than promoting the mid-engine range, I think it has a halo effect and trickledown effect on the company as a whole.

“It gives us the chance to meet and greet our customers, show them our new models, and get them to experience what a weekend’s like for the world of Aston Martin.”

Stroll stressed that he wants Aston to make more of its background in motor sport, referencing founder Lionel Aston’s early efforts in hillclimbing before WW1.

“Being a racer at heart, the DNA of this company that always attracted me to Aston Martin was when in 1913 Lionel Martin drove up Aston Hill. That is what this company is all about.

“It’s about its racing heritage, its racing history, that then helped through those technologies to develop these great cars.

“I feel Aston has really missed having a mid-engine programme, having that DNA in their blood.

“And now with the opportunity of returning to a works F1 team in ’21, to be able to share technology from our F1 team with our road car projects, I think this is the final cherry on the cake that Aston Martin needed to complete its range, and come back to its roots of racing.”

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Honda has made "big step up" with 2020 F1 engine

Honda has made "big step up" with 2020 F1 engine

Honda has made a "big step up" with its Formula 1 engine this year, especially in packaging terms, claims AlphaTauri team boss Franz Tost.
With the Japanese engine manufacturer setting sights on a potential title challenge with Red Bull, it has worked hard since last season to improve the power, reliability and packaging of its 2020 power unit.

And for Tost, whose team has worked with Honda since the start of 2018, the progress that it has made has left him impressed.

"This was a big step up," said Tost, when asked by Motorsport.com about the development Honda has made for this season.

"We are working together the third year with them and, if you look at how the power unit is fitted into the monocoque, and if you would compare this to the first year, then there's a big difference.

"Everything is optimized: from the electric boxes to the water pumps and oil pumps, and all this kind of stuff, to get a better centre of gravity, and better weight distribution.

"This of course helps: this is a performance differentiator and they made big steps forward also from the reliability side and from the performance side."

AlphaTauri technical director Jody Eggington says that the long-term relationship with Honda has been key in helping drive forward improvements, as both team and engine supplier have a better understanding of what they need.

"They're adapting their power unit to our packaging needs," he said. "You've got a very good dynamic there, and they're always working to meet the needs of AlphaTauri and Red Bull. That's just gone on and on. And they're very responsive to that.

"It's allowed us to really ask a lot of questions to get the thing packaged as tightly as possible and they are being flexible to actually achieve that. So it's a sort of an evolution.

"By the time you get to the third year, your working relationships are formed, you understand the basics of their philosophy behind the power unit and it is continuity. And with continuity gives you the opportunity to push things a bit further and optimise things."

For Red Bull, Honda stepping up is viewed as an essential element for its hopes this season, with team principal Christian Horner admitting that a lack of engine performance had held the team back in recent years.

"We've got a very strong team - our driver line-up, the strength and depth that we have within the team," he explained. "I think our engine partners are a key aspect as well, which has been the missing ingredient for the past few years.

"That relationship with Honda we saw really grow during the course of last year, with the three victories we achieved, the pole positions. And of course, heading into a second year with continuity, with the power unit more integrated into the chassis, of course our expectations grow and our targets are very high this year.

"We know we've got some fierce opponents but we do have the strength and depth within our team to put a real challenge together this year."

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F1 to implement quarantine points, suspends non-essential travel

Insight: It’s race week, but the future remains unclear

Formula 1 says it is in constant dialogue with promoters and organisers over the COVID-19 outbreak, with quarantine points set to be installed at grand prix venues.

The world is in the midst of an outbreak and spread of a coronavirus, labelled COVID-19, that has caused travel disruption due to tighter restrictions imposed by some governments.

Formula 1 has already postponed the Chinese Grand Prix, planned for April 17-19, while organisers in Bahrain – location for next weekend’s second round – have confirmed it will be held without spectators.

In a statement issued ahead of this weekend’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix, Formula 1 provided its first in-depth reaction to the outbreak.

It assured that “the health and safety of the F1 fans, family and wider communities is always paramount.

“With the continuing spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), and its impact on global communities, F1 is in constant dialogue with promoters, governmental bodies and expert health authorities to ensure the safeguarding of everyone inside and around the sport.

“F1 is taking a scientific approach to the outbreak in order to help assess and implement the appropriate steps needed to minimise risks and protect personnel.”

It added that “due to the fluid nature of the virus, F1 will continue to take a scientific approach to the situation, acting on daily advice from the official health authorities and the advice or measures each host promoter may enact.

“F1 has itself implemented a number of measures based upon advice from Public Health England, including the suspension of all non-essential travel.

“Dedicated teams of experts will be deployed at airports, transit points and at circuits to safeguard personnel, focused on the diagnosis, management and extraction of suspected cases.

“Bespoke quarantine points are being installed by promoters for any suspected cases.

“For F1, the FIA and all teams and promoters, the safety of our people is at all times paramount.”

No mention was made regarding the Vietnam Grand Prix, currently scheduled for April 3 to 5.

Formula 1 personnel have arrived in Australia though travel plans were altered in order to avoid transit hubs such as Singapore and Hong Kong.

Itineraries for the following round in Bahrain have also been heavily disrupted due to a reduction in services between the Gulf state and major connecting hub Dubai.

Formula 1 personnel have already been asked for all travel details by organisers in Bahrain.

In the statement issued by Formula 1 it confirmed that “Bahrain has taken the decision to hold this year’s Grand Prix as a participants-only event – part of a wider set of proactive measures implemented by the country to limit the virus’ spread.

“Bahrain will also implement screening procedures on entry and specialist medical facilities onsite, as well as enhanced sanitation at the circuit, additional hand washing stations and specific medical protocols to manage any suspected cases of COVID-19.”

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Ferrari wants to create smiles in Australia during ‘difficult time’

Ferrari wants to create smiles in Australia during ‘difficult time’

Ferrari hopes to “put a smile” on faces all over the world and particularly in their home country during what is a “difficult time” amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

Italy – home to Ferrari – has been hit particularly hard and recently surpassed South Korea to record the highest number of infected citizens outside of China, forcing the country to quarantine almost 16 million people in the North of the country, including Maranello, where Ferrari’s factory is based.

Ferrari head to the Formula 1 season-opener on the back foot following pre-season testing with claims they won’t be in a position to fight for victories, but team boss Mattia Binotto admitted the pecking order remains uncertain and is keen to see where they stand.

“After a long winter working on building and developing our car, the time has come to get a first indication of our performance level and how effective are the improvements we have introduced over the past few months.

“We know that the opposition is strong, but we also know that it is the start of a long season where development rate, reliability, and our operational effectiveness will be key. We are gearing up to tackle all these challenges as a united team, conscious of the progress that needs to be made and proud of the support of our fans worldwide.”

He added: “At what is a difficult time for Italy and the world as a whole, as part of a global sport, it is our obligation to try and put a smile on people’s faces as they prepare to watch the first race of the season with the same sense of anticipation as ourselves.”

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Bahrain GP to race behind closed doors due to Covid-19

Bahrain GP to race behind closed doors due to Covid-19

Organisers for the Bahrain Grand Prix have confirmed that the 2020 event will be the first Formula 1 event to be run behind closed doors due to the Covid-19 virus.

Bahrain remains set to host the second round of the 2020 F1 World Championship on March 22, just one week following the season opener in Melbourne, Australia.

News of the event being closed off to spectators comes days after the kingdom had suspended ticket sales in order to review of the situation, which has now led to the decision to not allow spectators into the facility for the race weekend.

In a statement released on Sunday morning, the Bahrain International Circuit confirmed the news of the spectator ban.

“In consultation with our international partners and the Kingdom’s national health taskforce, Bahrain has made the decision to hold this year’s Bahrain Grand Prix as a participants-only event.

“As an F1 host nation, balancing the welfare of supporters and race goers is a tremendous responsibility.

“Given the continued spread of Covid-19 globally, convening a major sporting event, which is open to the public and allows thousands of international travellers and local fans to interact in close proximity would not be the right thing to do at the present time.

But to ensure that neither the sport, nor its global supporter base, is unduly impacted, the race weekend itself will still go ahead as a televised event.

“Bahrain’s own early actions to prevent, identify and isolate cases of individuals with Covid-19 has been extremely successful to date.”

The circuit believes efforts to ensure the strict measures in place to stop the spread of the virus would have been hampered if the many thousands of fans had attended the event.

“The approach has involved rapid, proactive measures, identifying those affected by the virus, of which the overwhelming majority of cases relate to those travelling into the country by air,” it added.

“Aggressive social distancing measures have further increased the effectiveness of preventing the virus’ spread, something that would clearly be near impossible to maintain were the race to have proceeded as originally planned.

“We know how disappointed many will be by this news, especially for those planning to travel to the event, which has become a cornerstone event of the international F1 calendar, but safety has to remain our utmost priority.”

Bahrain’s decision to close the race off to spectators comes just hours after several regions in Italy have been placed on lockdown – including Modena, where Ferrari is based.

At the time of writing, both the Australian and Bahrain Grand Prix’s are set to take place as scheduled.

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Italy lockdown could hit Formula 1 and MotoGP

Italy lockdown could hit Formula 1 and MotoGP

Italy has announced new measures to contain the coronavirus which could have a major impact on both Formula 1 and MotoGP.

The Italian government is set to pass a law banning entry and exit from the Lombardy region and 11 further provinces in the north of the country in an effort to tackle the virus, which has hit Italy particularly hard.

Italy saw more than 1,200 new cases of Covid-19 in the last 24 hours bringing the total to almost 6,000 – making it the third hardest hit country after China and South Korea. Deaths have also increased substantially by 36, bringing the total to 233.

The law will ban anyone from entering or leaving the ‘red zones’ until April 3rd and anyone caught doing so could be fined. It also sees schools, museums, gyms, swimming pools, theatres and cinemas closed whilst restaurants and cafes face restrictions.

Those restrictions cover the whole of Lombardy but also the provinces of Parma, Piacenza, Rimini, Reggio-Emilia, Modena, Pesaro, Urbino, Venice, Padua, Treviso, Alessandria and Asti.

Ferrari is located in Modena and could therefore face difficulty in getting its employees to races and whilst MotoGP has cancelled the opening two rounds – the third is also under threat – Moto2 and Moto3 employees who are due to return to the region following the Qatar GP this weekend, may be unable to do so.

The order does however state that “movements motivated by un-deferrable work needs or emergency situations” will be exempt, but whether the government will determine that motorsport fits that description is currently unknown.

If not, along with Ferrari, both AlphaTauri and Pirelli would also face problems as they too are located in the north of Italy.

Whilst the majority of employees have left for the season-opener in Australia next weekend, some are due to fly out on Sunday and Monday and they will not be allowed to return until after round 3 – the Vietnam Grand Prix.

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‘Not a chance’ Australian GP will be run behind closed doors

‘Not a chance’ Australian GP will be run behind closed doors

Australian Grand Prix corporation boss Andrew Westacott has categorically ruled out following in the footsteps of the Bahrain GP, which has barred fans from attending the race in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Westacott doesn’t believe such a move is necessary as the situation in Australia isn’t a serious threat, and cited the successful Women’s T20 Cricket World Cup game held in Melbourne at the weekend in which a record 86,000 attended and enjoyed a half-time show by Katy Perry.

Asked by the local SEN sport’s radio station if following Bahrain’s example was possible, he replied: “Not a chance.”

“When you look at 86,000 at the MCG last night – we’ve got to go around things sensibly and keep moving on through life while taking the necessary precautions.

“There is no evidence of community transmission in Victoria at the moment, so I’m not feeling at all concerned going to mass gatherings or walking down the streets in Victoria. So I don’t think there’s a risk to the grand prix.

“I think if you had widespread or significant community transmission in one or more cities in the country where there was a risk to people going to public events, that’s when you should start looking at that.

“We’re certainly not at a tipping point like that at the moment.”

There’s some concern the race might not go ahead following Italy’s decision to quarantine almost 16 million people in an area that includes both Ferrari and AlphaTauri’s factories, but Westacott is confident everything has already arrived or is on its way to Melbourne.

“The interesting thing is the Italian freight. The AlphaTauri cars and the Ferrari cars are on their way from as we speak, so it’s really good.

“The key personnel are on their planes. We’re expecting them in the next 12 to 24 hours.”

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Drivers given freedom over helmet liveries after FIA scraps rule

Drivers given freedom over helmet liveries after FIA scraps rule

Formula 1’s governing body has scrapped the legislation that restricted drivers from undertaking several changes of helmet design per season.

Ahead of the 2015 campaign the FIA introduced a rule that meant drivers had to retain predominantly the same colour scheme through the season.

Drivers were permitted one-off alterations for special events, such as a home race, or a milestone celebration.

On Friday, at a meeting of the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council, it was decided that the rule should be scrapped.

“A change to the 2020 Sporting Regulations was approved to allow for unrestricted variations to driver helmet designs between races,” read a statement.

The rule was introduced ostensibly to assist with driver identification though increased visibility of numbers – and greater cockpit protection including the halo – has made helmet designs less vital in this regard.

The regulation came in for widespread criticism at last year’s Russian Grand Prix when Daniil Kvyat was denied use of a special design for his home event, having already sported a different colour scheme for Toro Rosso’s home round in Italy.

MIKA: FINALLY!!!

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Self-policing key part of 2021 F1 financial regulations – Brawn

Self-policing key part of 2021 F1 financial regulations – Brawn

Formula 1’s Managing Director of Motorsport Ross Brawn is certain teams will be kept in check under the 2021 financial regulations through self-policing and potential whistle-blowing.

The 2021 F1 season will be held under financial regulations placed on World Championship for the very first time in its 70-year history, with an annual restriction of $175 million.

Teams will be operating under the FIA’s Cost Cap Administration, with a dry run of the regulations set to be undertaken throughout the 2020 campaign.

When the rules come into force on January 1 2021, the CCA will also work with the financial consulting firm, Deloitte, who will audit teams regularly.

Brawn is confident the competing outfits will also be able police themselves due to the frequency in how often teams interchange personnel, making it difficult to keep such information locked down.

He has also confirmed a whistle-blowing process will be put in place in order to allow anyone with information on potential breaches to come forward, helping ensure complainants remain anonymous.

“What happens classically in Formula 1 is there is a constant circulation of personnel around the teams, and most of the indiscretions in Formula 1 have come out because someone has moved from one team to another and told them,” Brawn told select media.

“Every team knows that they will never retain any fraudulent activity because someone will leave next week or the week after and they’ll take that information with them.

“The teams have, in a very crude sense, this internal policing going on because they know that this engineer will move to another team next season and you won’t be able to retain that information.

“So there’s self-policing, there’s a whistle-blowing system, and there’s a strong group of auditors. We’ve partnered with Deloitte, who have been very involved with a number of these sport initiatives, and we will meet some challenges for sure in the next few years.

“But unless we face up to that, we’re never going to get this under control.”

Any potential sanctions will be determined on a case-by-case basis, while sporting penalties could constitute anything from a reprimand to points deductions and even potential exclusion from the World Championship.

Brawn believes recent notable breaches of financial regulations in other sports, such as the scandals involving Manchester City Football Club and the Rugby Premiership team Saracens, will help provide a template as to what can happen if breaches are made.

“My judgement is teams will be less cavalier in what they do because it’s shown there’s consequences,” Brawn added.

“We’ve seen the Saracens situation in rugby, and there’s been consequences for them. For us, that’s a good thing because it shows there will be consequences if a team fraudulently breaches the cost cap regulations.”

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Sette Camara named Red Bull reserve after McLaren split

Sette Camara named Red Bull reserve after McLaren split

Sergio Sette Camara has been named test and reserve driver for Formula 1 outfits Red Bull and AlphaTauri for the 2020 season.
Sette Camara was previously on Red Bull's books as part of its Junior Team back in 2016, while he spent last year in a test and development role for rival F1 team McLaren.

He will share his F1 duties this year with Red Bull's long-serving reserve driver and Nissan e.dams Formula E regular Sebastien Buemi.

"I am extremely happy to join the Red Bull family as Official Test & Reserve driver for the 2020 Formula One season alongside Sebastian," Sette Camara said.

"I’ve been watching F1 since I was five years old and I’m humbled to have been given this opportunity to work with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri."

Originally let go by Red Bull after finishing 11th in his second season of European F3, Sette Camara has since contested three consecutive campaigns in Formula 2.

He finished 12th, sixth and fourth in those respective seasons but is not on the grid this year, having already amassed the 40 required points for an FIA superlicence.

Sette Camara has tested with Carlin in IndyCar and with Dragon in Formula E this year already, having likewise joined the latter operation as test and reserve driver.

The Brazilian, who is yet to officially firm up his race programme for the coming season, will be present in his new F1 role at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix this weekend.

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Ferrari travelling to F1 opener as planned despite Italy lockdown

Ferrari travelling to F1 opener as planned despite Italy lockdown

The Ferrari Formula 1 team says its preparations for the Australian Grand Prix are continuing as planned, despite the lockdown announced by the Italian government that has affected a large part of the country.

Restrictions on travel confirmed overnight led to concerns that at least some Ferrari and AlphaTauri employees who had not already left would not be able to make it to Melbourne, potentially compromising the ability of the teams to take part in the first race of the season.

Ferrari stresses that it respects the government decision, but says it isn't currently poised to impact travel plans for team members heading to Australia.

A statement given to Motorsport.com said: “Following measures announced by the Italian Government last night, we are monitoring and evaluating the situation and are in close contact with the relevant authorities and all organisations involved.

“For Ferrari, compliance with the Government regulations represents the primary guarantee for ensuring the safety of its employees and their families which is our priority. Every single decision will be made with respect to this principle.

“Part of the team and equipment have already arrived in Melbourne and the departures for the remaining members of the team are going ahead as programmed unless we receive communications to the contrary.”

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Haas "not going to make mistakes like last season"

Haas "not going to make mistakes like last season"

Haas Formula 1 team boss Gunther Steiner insists the outfit has learned its lessons from its troubled 2019 season, but he remains cautious about its prospects for this year.
Haas enjoyed a strong start last year, but the team lost its way and was forced to return to the car's Melbourne specification.

Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean ran different specs for much of the second half of the season, a situation that wasn't easy to manage.

Steiner is adamant that the team has now taken a different approach.

"I'm taking things on board," he said. "We are not going to make mistakes like last season. I say definitely yes to that. We understood that, we are working a little bit different on it.

"There can still be mistakes. But I think if I would say we didn't learn our lesson and be stupid like last year, I mean, that wouldn't make me feel great, saying, 'No, I ignore everything that I learned last year, I just keep on going head down like we did last year.'

"No, we learned our lesson. We are humble, and we'll try to be like two years ago again. Let's speak about two years ago."

Steiner says the feedback from the drivers on the 2020 car in testing last month was encouraging.

"They made the right noises," he added."Obviously a driver is never happy, and especially if you think what happened to us last year - I mean, we were very happy with it, then it is ended up not to be good.

"So everybody's very cautious. We are very cautious in our prediction for this season, because we don't want to be, 'It's all good, it's all good,' then fall hard.

"So we do a diligent job and try to do the best and see where it takes us. But that's happened every year, just last year, the developments didn't work. So we ended up where we ended up.

"We are always very cautious in what we do. We are a little bit of a dark horse because we play it different. We change around a lot of things, normally here, there is a pattern in it, and we change the pattern a little bit.

"No, we are always cautious what we do and we just want to make sure that we've got we can use it, and come as best prepared as possible to Australia."

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Netflix success shows F1 shouldn’t just chase profit - Brawn

Netflix success shows F1 shouldn’t just chase profit - Brawn

The success of Netflix's 'Drive to Survive' series is proof that Formula 1 should not always prioritise chasing profits, says Ross Brawn.
With the second series of Netflix's F1 documentary grabbing the interest of fans, grand prix racing's chiefs are well aware of the wider exposure that the sport has had with a new audience.

While Netflix has paid only a fraction of what major pay-TV channels are forking out for live coverage of the sport, F1's managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn says that the gains it has brought deliver a different kind of value.

"I think it was really great to show the fans the other side of F1, because most of the fans have only seen what goes on at the track or the interviews at the track," said Brawn, speaking at an event for new F1 partner 188Bet.

"Suddenly you see behind the scenes, both at the race tracks and at the factories and the bases the teams operate from. I think it gave people a fascinating insight.

"What we've discovered is it's been very appealing to the non-race fan: in fact it turned them into race fans. Some of the promoters in the past season have said they've definitely measured the increase in interest in F1 that has come from the Netflix series.

"And while Netflix in itself wasn't for us a hugely profitable venture, in terms of giving greater coverage for F1, it's been fantastic. And that's the type of initiative that we're doing, we're looking at taking a holistic view of how we can lift F1."

Brawn said that F1's push in the Esports arena was along similar grounds: that it was being viewed as an investment to attract a younger generation of fans rather than simply about being a big money deal.

"Eracing, for instance, is a fascinating crossover," he said. "The new generation are very engaged in Esports of all sorts. And we want to make the connection between F1 and Esports.

"Our Esports initiative has been a fantastic success. All of the F1 teams have put teams forward. And it's really engaging a new area, a new age group, and a new interest in the sport."

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How Leclerc has tailored new Ferrari to maximise starts

How Leclerc has tailored new Ferrari to maximise starts

In his second year at Ferrari, and now signed up through 2024, Formula 1 young gun Charles Leclerc is looking at ways to better accommodate his own needs behind the wheel of the SF1000.

As we can see from Giorgio Piola’s illustration above, he’s starting to take care of the details. The steering wheel on his car now features a thimble-like socket that supports his index and middle finger to give more feel when operating the clutch.

It’s by no means a new feature, with many drivers sporting such customizations on their steering wheels, but certainly an indication that he’s taking care of the smaller details in order to maximise his own performance. These kind of changes can become a tale of never-ending micromanagement, but with the rules surrounding race starts and clutch deployment under ever more scrutiny by the FIA, it’s an area of the driver's craft that he must get right.

The socket that’s been in use during testing has been produced via rapid prototyping, with numerous iterations almost certainly available to Leclerc in order that he finds the most effectively solution before the lights go out in Melbourne.

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F1 tyre challenge bigger than ever in 2020 - Racing Point

F1 tyre challenge bigger than ever in 2020 - Racing Point

Formula 1 teams face an even "harder" time dealing with tyres this season even though Pirelli’s products are unchanged for this season, reckons Racing Point’s Andrew Green.
With teams having unanimously rejected a 2020 prototype tyre following a test in Abu Dhabi last year, the decision was made to stick with the 2019 construction and compounds.

While that means teams are in a unique situation of having the same tyres for a second year, Racing Point’s technical director says changes to the tyre pressures required to cope with the increase in car performance will pose a headache.

“I think the tyres are becoming more and more challenging,” said Green when asked by Motorsport.com about the impact this season of using the same engine.

“As the load from these cars increases, and because we're left with the same fundamental tyre and construction, I think it becomes a lot harder for us to get to run these tyres.

"We are saying that already, and I think with directives that are coming out regarding the way we can use the tyres as well, that is going to make it even harder.

“So I think that the tyre challenge, it's probably harder now this year than it's ever been. It definitely is for us. Even though the construction and compound have stayed the same, the cars have evolved, and that's fundamentally the challenge.”

Green said that the impact of the pressure change would be felt more in the races than in qualifying, when teams would not feel the limitations as much.

“I think one lap is still relatively straightforward, but over a long distance it is a very, very big challenge,” he said. “A very big challenge.”

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Why Ferrari might be quicker than they looked at testing

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There were high hopes Ferrari would build on last year’s strong end to the season and provide a sustained challenge to Mercedes in 2020. But their chief Mattia Binotto moved to play down those hopes at testing, as the data suggested they were off the pace, perhaps behind Red Bull, too. But is the picture really that bleak?

Our headline data on short runs makes for grim reading for Ferrari, with the Scuderia around 1.7s/lap slower than world champions Mercedes. However, it is notoriously difficult to judge how much fuel they have onboard for those shorter stints. It could be that they were running higher fuel. An extra 10kg of fuel can equate to 0.3s of lap time.

Their situation improves slightly in long runs, but they are still around a second per lap off the Silver Arrows’ leading pace. However, dig a little deeper into these numbers and things might not actually be as bad as they seem. Charles Leclerc’s race simulation, completed on Friday afternoon in what was the final session of testing, will give Ferrari fans hope.

The Monegasque completed 66 laps, with two pit stops, simulating the Spanish Grand Prix race distance. The car was fuelled to get through the whole run, with no refilling when he pitted for fresh boots. The stints were relatively even – 21 laps, 23 laps, 22 laps.

Compare that to Mercedes’ most impressive race simulation of the same distance, completed by Lewis Hamilton on the morning of day two of testing, and Leclerc was around 0.5s per lap slower than Hamilton – a vast improvement on the average data above.

It’s well known that conditions at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya are usually at their best in the morning, with the track getting slower and cooler as the day goes on. That means Hamilton’s race simulation was completed in better conditions compared to Leclerc, which in theory shaves a little off that deficit.

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Leclerc was comfortably quicker than the Racing Point (Sergio Perez) and McLaren (Carlos Sainz) who completed race simulations at the same time on Friday afternoon. It should be noted Mercedes (who power Racing Point) were running all of their engines at lower levels to protect reliability, having suffered a series of issues across the six-day test. But it does suggest there will be a decent gap between the top three and the rest once again.

Adding more downforce over the winter was a high priority for Ferrari and they seem to have done that. Unfortunately, they have also added drag and lost speed on the straights, which might explain why Ferrari chief Mattia Binotto moved to play things down at testing.

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“I’m not as optimistic as I was last year,” he said. “We are certainly not the fastest car, at least here in Barcelona during winter testing. Our main competitors (Mercedes and Red Bull) are certainly faster. But there will be time to address the development where we believe we are too weak.”

He rated the test as an eight out of 10, based largely on the fact they completed the mileage and programme (they spent a lot of time mapping the car to understand the lap time and avoid a repeat of last year where they were fast in testing but then slow from Melbourne) but downgraded to a six when talking specifically about performance.

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There are positives when you analyse the cornering data. Sebastian Vettel in his final testing briefing said they are “faster in the corners by quite a chunk”. And the data backs it up. Slow corners were Ferrari’s enemy last year, but they held a 0.3s advantage in these types of turns at Barcelona over the rest of the field. That’s a huge performance swing.

Ferrari believe correlation is good, based on the data, while Vettel adds the car is a “step forward”. But a combination of their rivals doing a very good job and the team having more drag than last year has hampered them. Vettel is a glass half-full kind of guy, so perhaps it’s unsurprising that he was staying positive as the test drew to a close. “We believe come race day, it [the car] will give us an advantage in the way it is set up,” he said. But perhaps he’s buoyed by Leclerc’s race simulation, too.

There’s no doubt Ferrari are behind Mercedes, but there are some slithers of data to suggest they are not as far back as many think. Melbourne will give us our first clues, but it won’t be until we’ve completed Bahrain, Vietnam, Zandvoort and Barcelona that we get a true picture.

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Cannot wait for this weekend.

Ferrari is going to be dogged all year for last year's "cheaty but we couldn't really prove it maybe" engine all season.

I can't see any other results besides Merc going 1-2 and a double double again this season.  Can see Max end in 3rd but I'm not sure if the team can beat Ferrari.  

The action is going to be in the midfield.  I think it will be very scrappy. 

Also filling Haas turns it around. F1 will suffer if more teams leave the sport.

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Hoping for signs of a Williams resurgence...other than getting a car to the track in time!  LoL.  Also think that Renault, is the dark horse this season.  Drama of the year:  Point.  But not because it’s got a car that could be similar to one that sat on the grid last season.  But for Lawrence’s son...and how his performance or lack thereof, affects the driver carousel after the first 1/3  of the season...

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