F1 season could extend to January 2021, says Ferrari boss, Latest Others News - The New Paper

F1 season could extend to January 2021, says Ferrari boss

Two-day grands prix also being considered to salvage the motorsport's season

Formula One could shorten grand prix weekends and extend its schedule into January if that helps salvage a season ravaged by the coronavirus, said Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto.

The season's first eight races have all been affected by the pandemic.

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 - scheduled in Bahrain, Vietnam, China, Holland, Spain and Azerbaijan - have been postponed.

More look likely to follow with countries in lockdown, but Formula One chairman Chase Carey had said they hope to get back on track some time in the European summer with a reduced season of 15 to 18 races, from an initial list of 22.

The start of the F1 season has been pushed back to the Canadian GP on June 14.

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 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."

To make it easier, Binotto also suggested cutting a typical race weekend from three days to two.

Said the Italian: "We can also have two-day weekends, with free practice moved to Saturday morning, so that we can meet the logistical needs in case of grands prix being close together.

"In addition, the current shutdown leaves room for the possibility of being able to compete in August if there are conditions to be able to do so."

F1 needs a minimum of eight races for a valid championship and the 2020 season is 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.

When asked about the possibility of finishing the season with a few races in January, Binotto said: "These are all places where we, as a team, need to ensure maximum availability.

"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."

Binotto, who has been working from home since returning from the Australian GP, said he is in daily contact with their drivers Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc.

"We started smart-working right after Australia," he said.

"Now we're in FIA shutdown, which continues the period that in our case started early.

"With Seb and Charles, we speak almost daily. They are both at home and they are training as always. They are undoubtedly fit."

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 has racked up 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 last Friday that he would be very surprised if the sport managed to put together even a reduced season of 15-18 races. - REUTERS