F1 on verge of agreeing 2021 rules delay?

18/03/2020
NEWS STORY

Hard to believe, but the first time we wrote an article featuring 'coronavirus' was on 30 January, in terms of how the FIA was ready to take action as the death toll in China reached 170.

Seven weeks later and we're talking pandemic, with barely a nation on the face of the earth unaffected, and millions facing unprecedented change to their lives.

Though there is no activity on track at present, as ever in Formula One, there is plenty going on behind the scenes.

While sections of the media insist on presenting their ideas on how the calendar might look once the all-clear is given – and in China, though seemingly ignored by the mainstream media, the virus appears to have peaked - the sport is looking even further ahead.

Depending on the results of the opening races, it was feared that some teams - including Ferrari - might give up on 2020 and start focussing on next year and the biggest overhaul of the sport's regulations in living memory.

However, the virus has changed all that, and as previously reported it is likely that the rules package, much like the opening races, will have to be postponed.

Auto Motor und Sport reports that nine of the teams have agreed to defer the rule changes to 2022, with a final decision due in the coming days.

The teams came to their decision, which allegedly saw Ferrari request more time to consider the matter, in a conference call, and now a second meeting is lined up for Thursday with Chase Carey, Ross Brawn and Jean Todt.

As we previously reported, the teams continue to receive prize money but if races continue to be postponed or cancelled it is going to start hitting them, especially the smaller teams, particularly hard. This, combined with the need to develop a whole new car for 2021 could be enough to tip a couple over the edge.

It is claimed that under the new proposal the teams would continue using their basic 2020 chassis until the end of next year, and while there would be a development freeze on most parts this would not extend to aero development.

However, even before the virus began to reach the headlines, there was doubt over at least two teams, Haas and Renault, while Mercedes future is yet to be officially confirmed.

As the doubts continue, the claims linking Sebastian Vettel with Renault appear all the more far-fetched, with more than a little hint of smoke and mirrors about them.

Meanwhile, Ross Brawn's claim that races could go ahead with less than twelve cars is even more worrying, for at a time no teams are committed beyond the end of this year and F1's value continues to drop, though the various agreements prohibit such a move, in many ways the current contracts are null and void right now and consequently anything goes.

That said, talk of a Grand Prix in Cardiff featuring just 10 cars is still thought to be wide of the mark.

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Published: 18/03/2020
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