F1 could race into January if necessary, says Binotto

  • Motorsport
  • Sunday, 29 Mar 2020

FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 - Russian Grand Prix - Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia - September 28, 2019 Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto REUTERS/Anton Vaganov

LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One could shorten grand prix weekends and race into January if that helps salvage a season ravaged by the coronavirus, according to Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto.

The opening race in Australia on March 15 was cancelled and the showcase Monaco Grand Prix in May has also been scrapped, the first time since 1954 that it has not featured on the championship calendar.

A further six rounds have been postponed, and more look likely to follow with countries in lockdown, but Formula One bosses have said they hope to get back on track some time in the European summer with a reduced season of 15 to 18 races.

Binotto told Sky Sports Italia that the teams had given the Formula One powers-that-be complete freedom to do what was necessary to have a championship.

"We are in constant dialogue," he said. "I have felt, along with the other team principals, that these are decisive moments.

"We've decided to give complete freedom to (Formula One chairman Chase) Carey and the FIA to put together as soon as possible a timetable for us to get racing again, we are willing on our side.

"We're assessing various ideas; races closer together, maybe doing two or three races in January, considering also the option of cancelling (Friday) practice."

Formula One needs a minimum of eight races for a valid championship and the 2020 season is currently due to end in Abu Dhabi on Nov. 29.

The sport normally has a break until launches and pre-season testing in February but, with cars now remaining the same in 2021 with major rule changes deferred a year to save money, there would be little need for that anyway.

"If this allows us to guarantee a more complete 2020 world championship, with the following season not starting until March, there is great availability for that," said Binotto.

The 2020 championship was originally meant to have a record 22 races, with Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton hoping to equal Michael Schumacher's record seven titles and surpass the Ferrari great's unprecedented 91 wins. Hamilton so far has 84 wins.

The Briton could be kept waiting on both accounts if the sport is unable to put together enough races.

Former commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone told Reuters on Friday that he would be very surprised if the sport managed to put together even a reduced season of 15-18 races.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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