Coronavirus: F1 teams open to two-day GPs and season extension

By Sports Desk March 28, 2020

Formula One teams are discussing the prospect of holding two-day grands prix and extending the 2020 season until January 2021.

Chase Carey, the CEO of F1, is still hoping to hold 15 to 18 races this season once normality has returned after the coronavirus pandemic.

The first eight races of the campaign are either postponed or cancelled with more likely to follow as lockdown restrictions remain widespread.

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto thinks teams will be as flexible as possible to find a solution, including two-day race weekends with practice held on a Saturday.

"We are engaged in constant dialogue," Binotto told Sky Italia. "I have felt, along with the other team principals, that these are crucial moments. 

"With regards 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.

"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."

Binotto would be willing to race into 2021 if it meant something closer to a full championship could take place.

He, his drivers Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel, as well as the whole Ferrari team, are working remotely.

"These are all places where we, as a team, need to ensure maximum availability," Binotto said about extending the season.

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

"We started [remote] smart-working right after Australia. 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."

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    However, the Briton missed out on a fourth race win in succession and a second in two weeks at Silverstone on Sunday.

    With Mercedes' tyres blistering in the heat, Verstappen's Red Bull car thrived in the conditions and he triumphed to move second for the year, 30 points behind Hamilton.

    Defending champion Hamilton welcomed the challenge, though, telling a post-race news conference: "I think it's great.

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    "Obviously the Red Bull seems to be quite close in race conditions to us and obviously today is stronger, so it shows they don't have as bad a package as perhaps people had said in the past

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    "But I don't think my team has that mentality anyway, so we just keep our heads down.

    "I was hopeful today that maybe we would have – wishful thinking - some sort of race towards the end, but maybe in the future we will get to have some, a bit more."

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    With a number of his rivals - including both Mercedes cars - suffering in testing conditions for tyres, Leclerc required just one stop, a strategy shared by Renault's Esteban Ocon and Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen. 

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    "I'm so happy today. For me, it feels like a victory," Leclerc told Sky Sports. "It's not looking good once we call a fourth place a victory, but at the moment it's where we're at. 

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    Hamilton, who also had the fastest lap, continued: "That middle stint I was managing to the best of my ability, but it didn't make a single difference to that blistering.

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    Hamilton was unsure there was a way Mercedes could have stopped Verstappen from triumphing under the circumstances.

    "Such a difficult race," he added to Sky Sports. "I love a challenge, so it was good, but it was just unexpected. 

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