F1 chief Chase Carey has spoken up on multiple topics including Concorde Agreement, Cost Cap, if positive case arises, 2020 season and more.
Formula 1 has seen some drastic changes over the last couple of days. Not only have their 2020 season plans been released as far as the calendar is concerned, but major regulatory overhauls have been announced that will alter F1 as a sport.
To digest all of this information, Carey spoke to F1 official site on a host of topics, from the number of races they’re targeting, to the rumored format changes – something he said will be doable, but would require unanimity given the significance of the changes and the short time-frame, in the interview, the bulk of which can be seen below.
Reverse-grid qualifying races races:
Carey: “We’ve had one idea that’s been publicised about a reverse grid race on Saturday to determine the grid for Sunday that not all teams were comfortable with. Making changes in this short timeframe requires unanimity of support. We’re changing almost real time inside the season, but we’ll continue to look at ideas.
“We want to make sure they’re not gimmicks. It’s a great sport with great history, great heroes, great stars, incredibly talented drivers and other individuals so we want to respect everything to a degree but we want to make sure that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t look at ways to make some changes.
“To some degree, this season being unique gives a little bit more opportunity to try something that I don’t think we would do unless we thought it was a real possibility to add something to the race. I think we always want to be challenging ourselves and looking at whether there other things we can do to make the sport better.”
Concorde Agreement pushed back:
Carey: “We were way down the road, probably in the final stage of putting it forth from our perspective, finalising it right before the coronavirus sort of exploded on us. We felt there were priorities that we should deal with before that.
“The challenges of addressing the calendar, addressing the issues in the year and putting in place the regulatory changes, the financial, sporting, and technical strength of the sport long term became priorities. In the short term we’ll probably return to that speaking about the commercial agreements.
“If we, make some headway on the calendar and the financial issues we have to manage through, because everybody will have financial pain through this year – then in very short order get to finalising the Concorde Agreement.”
Cost Cap introduction:
Carey: “It’s critically important for the sport to really have competitiveness and the action on the track that we want. It’s not accidental that the three teams that have essentially won every podium in the last five years are the three teams that have spent significantly more money than anybody else.
“We want to make sure F1 continues to be the pinnacle of motorsport. Teams are I think spending 10 times what teams in any other motorsport competition spends so it’s not a lack of resources. We’d like to make it more about how well you spend your money, not how much you spend and we actually think while we certainly understand there are challenges of getting that cost cap for some of these teams, that it will make it a healthier business in the long term and it’s critically important for the sport to have a healthy future.
“I don’t think you can have a sport that long term can have three teams out of 10 that are really competing for a championship. It’s not going to be a completely level playing field but it will be more of a playing field where the underdog has a chance to win.”
Return to racing:
Carey: “It seems to me you have a large desire from a large proportion of the world that wants to get back to life as we knew it and want to do it safely and the right way. We’re certainly not alone, other sports are beginning to compete, other societies are beginning to open. Much of the world is moving forward and I think it is important to realise that the shutdown does have both health, societal and economic consequences which are real long term.
“We need to intelligently manage the risks of this disease and do everything possible to eliminate it and provide safety for people but not do it in a way that we don’t recognise that there are real consequences to the shutdown and I think there is a real desire, if you can do it in the right way to start to move forward.
“We’d like to have fans at the events. But we’re not going to have fans at our first events so it’s certainly not going back to life as we know it. I think it is about taking careful thoughtful steps, with appropriate protection and procedures around it to begin to move forward in the world we know.”
Target number of F1 races:
Carey: “We feel good about it. We’re in uncharted waters. We certainly continue to have a lack of visibility beyond a fairly short timeframe. We’re engaged with all our promoters and we’re in active discussion with all of them, all of them are struggling to have the same visibility. We’re not going to give a deadline right now. With the fluidity of the situation, a deadline would create pressures which may not be right and realistic for the situation so we’re thinking of goals.
“Our goal would be before the end of June to if not complete the rest of the calendar, is to have a handle on it. We know what we would like to try and do. We have other options if some things don’t come together. We do expect there are races which are on the calendar which will probably still not occur. I think we certainly have options.
“We want to make sure we do it right but in these times, safety is still priority one, and we want to make sure we do it in a way that we’ve understood as much as possible what is required, what are the issues we have to deal with and not rush to any decisions before we can make them in the right way.”
Safety in the return to F1 racing:
Carey: “Certainly the FIA deserves an enormous amount of credit in this process. In many ways they’ve led in this process in terms of health and safety issues. We have engaged with a range of outside experts. And there is a rigorous set of guidelines, probably at this point it’s 80-90 pages, which will include everything from how do you travel there, what are the processes for being in hotels there to what are the processes that exist at the track, for meals, going to the restroom, downtime between tracks and testing processes.
“We will test before you go there, then there will be testing every two days. There are processes if we find an infection. We recognise there is the possibility so we’re prepared to appropriately deal with it, if we find a positive infection. We’re working on putting in place tracking capabilities, we have two different tracking options.
“In many ways, it will be like living in a bubble from when you start travelling on charter planes. There will be controlled transportation to hotels, transportation back and forth to the track from hotels. And probably within it, sub bubbles of people who operate different functions and it is set up to manage the processes, make sure we have the right protective equipment and social distancing.
“Clearly we recognise our sport is one which at times, we can’t have two metres between every individual on a team. When a car pulls into a pit and has to change four tyres, there won’t be two metres between every individual. We need to make sure we have procedures to manage all those risks as soon as possible.”
No Melbourne repeat:
Carey: “An individual having been found with a positive infection will not lead to a cancellation of a race. We encourage teams to have procedures in place so if an individual has to be put in quarantine, we have the ability to quarantine them at a hotel and to replace that individual. Some things we’d have to talk through and work through.
“The array of ‘what ifs’ are too wide to play out every one of them, but a team not being able to race wouldn’t cancel the race. I don’t think I could sit here and lay out the consequences. But we will have a procedure in place that finding infection will not lead to a cancellation. If a F1 driver has an infection, teams have reserve drivers available.
“We wouldn’t be going forward if we were not highly confident we have necessary procedures and expertise and capabilities to provide a safe environment and manage whatever issues arrive.”
Carey: “It has been busy. I feel good about the headway we have made but there is still a work in progress. For the last couple of years, we have been quite clear that we have had broad-based goals, to make the competition better, improve the action and make a healthier business for everyone in it. What the COVID-19 created was a sense of urgency. Crisis in many ways require a sense of urgency.
“The issues that arose with this timeframe gave us the impetus, it gave us the momentum to tackle things which would have probably been tackled in the ordinary course over a longer timeframe. It really shows the spirit of the sport, and the fact that it is a big family. Families squabble and families compete, that is certainly not unique to any family. In many ways you want that competition to exist, it’s the backbone of the sport but I think when things get tough, and clearly things are tough right now, they rose to the occasion.”
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