Impossible to tell when F1 will be back to normal – Szafnauer

Racing Point team principal Otmar Szafnauer says there can be no degree of certainty when Formula 1 will return to normal amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The opening eight races of the 2020 F1 season have been called off as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, which has also prompted all 10 teams to agree on a three-week shutdown in the coming weeks.

While F1 bosses remain hopeful of a 15-18-race season starting in the summer, Racing Point chief Szafnauer conceded there was no certainty as to when the sport would return to its usual service.

“This is an unprecedented situation, one that is changing by the day,” Szafnauer said. “Right now, we simply cannot say with any degree of certainty when we’ll be back to normal.

“There are so many factors that are not under our control.”

The pandemic has prompted teams to agree on delaying the introduction of the new technical regulations planned for 2021 by 12 months, with the existing 2020 chassis to be used again next year.

Szafnauer said that while it was a logical decision to back the move, it would not give Racing Point any reason to ease off in its push to lead the midfield battle once work resumed.

“Another decision taken between the teams and the FIA has been to delay the introduction of the new regulations until 2022. From both a logistical and a cost perspective, this makes absolute sense.

“Of course, that doesn’t mean we can afford to take it easy when we return to work. When we do eventually get back on track, we need to be in a position to compete – whatever the regulations.

“There’s still plenty of work ahead and we’ll be ready to tackle it when the time comes.”

Racing Point entered its three-week shutdown on Wednesday, meaning the team is currently scheduled to return to work on April 16.

Szafnauer added the team had made arrangements to allow staff who could work from home to do so.

“We’ve also worked extremely hard over the last few weeks to ensure that all staff who can work from home have the equipment they need to set up home offices,” he said.

“Our first concern at a time like this is the physical and mental wellbeing of our team-mates, their families and friends. We have everybody back home in the UK now and adjusting to this new reality – but it’s certainly not easy for anybody.

“We’re obviously disappointed not to be able to race for the foreseeable future but, ultimately, we all understand the significance of the situation.

“The challenges the world is currently facing are unlike anything I’ve known in my lifetime and clearly transcend the sport, so the decisions that have been made are the correct ones.”

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