(THE GUARDIAN) – Shortening a race weekend to two days and running the Formula One season into January next year are among the radical solutions being considered to get the sport racing again, according to Ferrari’s Mattia Binotto.
The first eight races of this year have already been cancelled or postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic and F1’s chief executive, Chase Carey, has insisted that the sport is committed to holding a 2020 championship, with the season beginning in the summer under a revised calendar of between 15 and 18 grands prix.
The Canadian Grand Prix on June 14 is listed as the first race at present but even if that is possible then starting that late leaves a limited period of time to hold the subsequent meetings and reschedule those six races that have been postponed.
The two cancelled races are the season-opener in Melbourne in mid-March and the Monaco spectacle in May, and even the British Grand Prix in July risks cancellation dependent on the length of the lockdown.
Since grand prix weekends consist of three days – two practice sessions on Friday, practice and qualifying on Saturday and the race on a Sunday – to hold more meetings in a condensed period, F1, the FIA and the teams are considering changing the established format.
“We are engaged in constant dialogue,” Binotto, Ferrari’s team principal, told Sky Sports Italia. “I have felt, along with the other team principals, that these are crucial moments.
“With regard to the timetable, we have given Carey and the FIA the freedom to define the calendar as they need to under these conditions. 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.”
A minimum of eight races are required for a world championship. The current calendar concludes in Abu Dhabi on Nov 29 but Binotto believes that rolling races into 2021 is now a viable option.
“These are all places where we, as a team, need to ensure maximum availability,” he said when asked about extending the season into next year.
“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.”
Coronavirus continues to threaten the calendar, however. The race in Canada is in peril, given the country has closed its borders, with a decision to be made about its staging expected in the next two weeks.
That would leave France on June 28 as the next scheduled race, but that too is vulnerable. The Le Mans 24 hours set for June 14 has already been postponed.