The 2020 Formula 1 Season Could Start In Austria Behind Closed Doors

Welcome to The Grid, R&T’s quick roundup of the auto industry and motorsports news you should know this morning.

2020 Formula 1 Season Could Start In Austria

The coronavirus pandemic has either postponed or cancelled the first nine rounds of the 2020 Formula 1 season, and while the French Grand Prix is still on the calendar, it’s believed that it will be postponed too. A more likely start for the 2020 campaign is in Austria at the Red Bull Ring. Autosport reports that Grand Prix organizers, led by Red Bull’s Helmut Marko, are working with local authorities to hold two isolated races at the track, one on July 5th, one on July 12th.

The plan calls for no spectators, no media, no guests, and reduced team personnel—these would be GPs for TV only. Silverstone, which hosts the British Grand Prix, has proposed a similar move as well. The boss of the classic British track said over the weekend that he’s open to running two grands prix without spectators. Previously, F1 sporting head Ross Brawn said that the series is aiming to hold 19 rounds, though the minimum required for a full championship is eight.

Damaged BorgWarner Plant May Impact Ford F-150 Production

Last week, a BorgWarner plant in South Carolina was devastated by a tornado, killing a contract worker and injuring four others. That plant makes four-wheel drive transfer cases for Ford trucks, including the F-150 and Explorer, plus the Lincoln Navigator. Automotive News says that could have a negative impact on production of those highly profitable models, whenever that restarts.

“We do not have sufficient information to estimate when the facility will be back online or whether, or the extent to which, this incident will impact our plans to resume production of four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive vehicles,” Ford said in a securities filing Friday. BorgWarner itself says it doesn’t know when production at the factory could resume.

Mercedes-AMG F1 Boss Buys Stake In Aston Martin

Aston Martin has been in a tough spot over the last year or so. The English automaker received a lifeline from Canadian billionaire—and Racing Point F1 team owner—Lawrence Stroll to the tune of £500 million. Stroll now owns a 25 percent stake in Aston Martin, and is its executive chairman. And soon, a little less than 1 percent of the company will be owned by Toto Wolff.

Yes, the Toto Wolff who runs and partially owns the Mercedes-AMG F1 team. The BBC reports that over the weekend, Wolff bought a five-percent stake in Aston Martin, which is now worth 0.95 percent after a rights issue. Next year, the Racing Point team will become the Aston Martin F1 team, which makes Wolff’s investment seem like a conflict of interest. It’s not, as Racing Point gets engines and transmissions from Mercedes-AMG, plus, Mercedes parent company Daimler also has a stake in Aston Martin, and supplies electronics for Aston road cars.

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