Coronavirus: F1 will make every effort to maximise season – Andretti

By Tom Webber 10 April 2020 2
Coronavirus: F1 will make every effort to maximise season – Andretti

Mario Andretti is confident every effort will be made to save as much of the Formula One schedule as possible and would not be against races behind closed doors.

Nine of the initially planned 22 races in 2020 have been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the season now set to get underway with the French Grand Prix in June.

F1 motorsports chief Ross Brawn said this week he still believes 19 races could be held if the schedule begins in July.

Andretti, the 1978 F1 champion, has been impressed by the positive outlook and believes initially racing without fans and condensing the weekend to two days would help ensure fewer grands prix are cancelled.

He told Stats Perform: "I think every effort will be made to try to maximise the season. 

"I think the key factor will be when the Formula One, IndyCar, any of the major racing series will be able to begin. I think once they start, we should be able to probably be very aggressive and just fill the airwaves with a lot of activity. 

"Obviously, you know there's nothing like smelling the race cars go by and feeling being that close. But again, all these races are televised worldwide, that's where the big audience is. Even if the first couple races – I hope not – have to be run with no spectators, so be it. At least we get this thing going. 

"And then I'm sure that from there we just hope that, all of a sudden, things will open up. The trick for now is to find a way to open the season – that's the key factor here. Everybody's chomping at the bit here. 

"From a Formula One standpoint, which is basically what I can read and find from Ross Brawn and so forth, they're all remaining very positive. 

"We have a job to do here and we're just waiting for an opening so we can get started, and once we get started, they're even talking about potentially going into next year to complete as many races as possible. I think the objective is to have at least 15 races but probably even more. 

"Maybe condense the weekend to a two-day weekend, I think that would make sense obviously because they will be moving in different continents very quickly. 

"Again, there are just ways of doing things and making things happen. I think the mindset is there and from where I stand, the standpoint of a fan and very much part of the family here, I just love to see that type of positive thinking." 

A collective of United Kingdom-based F1 teams have been assisting the government with ventilator production in response to the COVID-19 crisis, with Mercedes engineers helping to design a new breathing aide that has been made freely available to fight the outbreak.

"It's very commendable seeing what Mercedes has been doing on respirators and so forth, which is high technology," said Andretti.

"To be able to contribute like that is commendable in every possible way. Motorsports have always done... everything they're doing is to be able to help arrive at some solutions here. The contribution is immense."

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Tom Webber

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