So much has changed since February when testing happened in Barcelona. There the teams were testing the cars and now the teams are being tested for a virus.
It does seem crazy but it has taken a crisis like COVID-19 for all the teams to see some sense. The budgetary restraints due to start next season will have to be implemented this season or try at least.
Canadian Grand Prix postponed, but not cancelled. The season is expected to get under way as soon as possible. July is being penciled in as a possible start date now depending on how things pan out externally.
A few years ago Formula One had a cap of 850 staff per team and today this number has been surpassed by over 400 in some cases. The sport is unsustainable long term and will chase teams away. Having the budget restrictions had to happen. Teams don't want to invest $130 Million and come last every week.
Forced shutdown extended by another 3 weeks. This means teams cannot pick up a tool or a computer to work on their cars. This normally happened mid season but it is the same for everyone. Ferrari was due back tomorrow, but with the lock down couldn't anyway. Engineers at home could have though so the extension was announced today.
The budget cap was agreed at $175 Million per season per team which wasn't the ideal number the FIA wanted. They had to make the bigger teams happy so that is why they never stuck to the original figure of $130 Million. Now those teams may agree to the lower figure after this crisis now.
The postponement and late start to the season is squeezing all the teams and the longer this goes on the more challenging it will be. There are at least 4 teams who could disappear if it doesn't start soon enough. A team like McLaren has share holders to report to and with no car manufacturing of their road car they have to justify the spend.
Formula One 70 years ago.
There is no Formula One if 3 or 4 teams disappear off the grid. Imagine having a race with 6 or 7 teams, so a grid of 12 or 14 cars would be disappointing and less appealing. The FIA wont come out and say this as they are worried and need the racing to start very soon.
I expect racing will start fairly soon behind closed doors and the obvious one is Silverstone followed by others close by in Europe like Holland, France and Austria. Possibly a return race back at Silverstone to try and make the number of races up when crowds are allowed back.
Monaco is a definite casualty and a non starter this season.
The aim is to have a minimum of 8 races with a possible 19 still on the table. The FIA stand point on this right now is sponsors would still be happy as they would have bumper audiences at home with no other sport available. Teams could operate separately and move around in their own units and self charter planes as they require.
If the season starts in July they can achieve 19 races this season. Three races over consecutive weekends followed by one weekend off. Closed races will be easier to schedule as no marketing and ticket sales will be required. Two day races are an option for the further away races like China to just get in and out over a weekend.
McLaren still have 850 Staff and have kept their numbers down.
Having little downtime and carrying more spares is what the teams have to explore and need to overcome. This is a little experimental and something the teams need to explore. It has been discussed that if a team became ill and the team has to withdraw racing has to continue if safe to do so. A possibility is if this happens then maybe the top 18 races count for points leaving a team having an open option for at least one race missed. Different scenarios have to be looked at and makes the season more fair and better prepared with some logic behind everything.
The FIA will follow government guidelines in the countries they visit. They will take all the precautions required as this can't carry on forever. Economically this has to work as the sport can't afford to collapse so they need to manage and minimize the risk. Obviously there is less revenue for everyone this year and will damage the smaller specialist companies that supply items to them as well. Business casualties will happen in all fields around the world which and Formula One is trying to protect their family.
Mercedes designed and built which has helped save lives already.
The teams are very close together these days as all the top engineers have been working close together on various government projects for the medical needs. What they have done in this situation and come together to develop ventilators is something they are all proud of.