Formula 1 Team Boss Says July Start Is Critical for Future of the Series
Franz Tost, team principal of Red Bull junior team Alpha Tauri, said that should Formula 1 still be sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic beyond July, some teams could be in real trouble in terms of surviving.
If that’s true, then the series’ scheduled race on July 5 in Austria could be hugely important for Formula 1 and the smaller teams on the grid in particular.
“If we start competing in July, we will come out with a black eye,” Tost told the German language motorsport-total.com. “If we don’t start, it will be very critical.”
Tost, an Austrian, says his Italian-based team has already calculated the cost of the current race postponements, which will now stretch all the way to June.
“When we don’t contest a Grand Prix, it costs us $1.5 million to $2 million,” said Tost. “If nothing happens throughout the year, it will be a very critical matter. If you have no income, it is obviously an economic disaster.”
Currently, eight of 21 races have been postponed or canceled. The next race on the schedule is the French Grand Prix on June 28. However, France is still one of the world’s hot spots for the virus. Only the United States, Spain and Italy have more total positive cases and deaths from COVID-19.
Should the French GP be postponed or canceled, that would make the F1 Austrian Grand Prix on July 5 the next possible starting date for the series. After that, it’s the British GP at Silverstone on July 19. The British race is also very much in question since strict travel restrictions remain in place that would make it difficult, if not impossible, for some teams and fans to even make it to Silverstone.
Sporting officials in England have already canceled the Wimbledon tennis tournament that was scheduled for June 29 through July 12.
The European Union is also considering imposing restrictions for all nonessential travel. Even racing optimists would have trouble claiming an F1 race is essential travel in the current environment.
Formula 1 bylaws state that there must be at least eight races to consider it a championship season. That number is suddenly becoming a factor.
Haas F1 Team boss Guenther Steiner said, “If we don’t have a World Championship, it will be difficult for many teams to survive.”
Should the season be wiped out entirely, teams would not receive constructor championship prize money, which is the lifeblood of some teams. That could severely impact their ability to field a team in 2021.
“We need to wait and see which races we have, what income we have and how it looks with the sponsors,” Tost said. “Do they stay, do they disappear? What does the whole economic situation look like?
“We have to face reality to find out where we are economically.”
“We have to face reality to find out where we are economically. Then we have to sit down and say, ‘This is the challenge we are facing and we have only this money and that money left.’ Only Liberty Media can give us a starting point. They are responsible for the money from sponsors, from television rights, from organizers, which they then distribute to us.
“If they cannot distribute anything, we don’t have much to spend either. Now, we wait and see.”
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