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What’s been going on in Formula 1?

Here's our quick round up what's been going on in Formula 1

26th June 2020

With the global lockdowns, rearranged calendar and lack of actual racing you may think that not much would have happened in F1 – but my, it’s been quite a few months. Silly season Part 1 happened in a couple of days, teams are up for sale, teams are getting angry with other teams and drivers girlfiends have been locked out of their house.

Vettel off for a year?

The 2020 season may not have begun yet, but 2021 is already a great talking point. We may not have the new car designs until 2022 now, but we have some driver line ups already.

In the space of a day or two, Vettel announced his departure from Ferrari. His destination is still unknown, but a sabbatical is looking likely. This announcement was quickly followed with the news that Carlos Sainz is to leave McLaren and become Leclerc’s team mate at Ferrari. Sainz’ current team mate, Lando Norris was left hanging for long wondering who his teammate for 2021 will be when the next news flash came in that Daniel Ricciardo is to join McLaren, leaving his Renault seat after only joining the team in 2019. Bonkers? Yes! Exciting, yes!

But what about Vettel? There’s a super slim chance he could end up at Racing Point / Aston Martin, but their senior staff have flatly denied any chance of this – one seat is likely to be fixed for Lawrence Stroll (team owner) giving his son Lance a drive and it would be shock if Perez left the team again. But not impossible. Hmm. There’s a seat at Renault, but it’s tricky to see Vettel opting for what is destined to be a midfield car, one that Ricciardo has just ditched.

Fancy buying an F1 team?

Now’s your chance, with not one but two effectively up for sale/investment. The Williams team had their sponsorship contract with Rokit (worth something like $20million per year) cancelled and has put the team up for sale/investment.

We’re not financial experts and not quite understand the full details of what’s on offer, but the long and short of it, is that if you happened to be sitting on a fair few tens of millions (perhaps more) of pounds and not sure what to buy, you could buy into one of the most legendary teams in Formula 1. Nice. The sofa has been searched, but we’re still short.

McLaren are also up for sale, although this looks more complicated with loans secured against assets and other confusing (potentially misleading) stories of the group facing insolvency by mid-July. The pandemic has had a huge blow for the McLaren road cars – sales dropped massively, factory locked down and more than $100million missing on the balance sheet. That is a alarming.

All this is rather alarming, we’re talking about 2 of the biggest teams in the sport’s history, both effectively up for sale. The incoming cost cap could have done with being in place a couple of years ago. Hindsight, you wonderful thing.

Getting back up and running

Nearly all the teams have been getting their drivers and cars back up and running ahead of first race in Austria with filming days and the like being quite handy excuses to fire up the engines. We’ve lost track of who has been testing what, but it seems most/all have been at it.

Except a notable few. Max Verstappen was left hanging in Monaco (poor Max, haha) while Red Bull and his team mate, Alex Albon went for a filming day run at Silverstone. Max couldn’t join because the 14 day quarantine rules in place by the UK government, which doesn’t have exemptions for sports stars. Others were more fortunate with the filming days happening before this 14 day rule was put in place.

The other, more alarming situation is over at McLaren where zero running in an F1 car has happened. Mainly due to the fact that they are switching engines – moving away from Renault and gaining Mercedes power for 2021 onwards. It’s not completely clear, but is sounds like Renault are effectively blocking the team from doing so because it would involve them giving them an engine to run with (for an 2018 or 2020 car). Why would they do this? For one, Renault won’t be happy with losing an engine customer and two, they paid Daniel Ricciardo vast sums of money and he’s turned around and said “see ya later, mate” and headed for McLaren. Purely speculation? Maybe. But it doesn’t feel very good at all for McLaren. Their current drivers have been out in F3 cars though, hmm.

Virtual racing is fun!

From comments on social media, although F1 fans are looking forward to the racing starting up, many will miss the rise of esports and sim racing – and the insight it provides into drivers lives and their true personalities. Shining stars have been Norris, Leclerc, Albon and err, Johnny Herbert.

One notable gag was Leclerc who had to pause a race to go let his girlfriend in to the house after she locked herself out. How did she reach him? She had to subscribe to his Twitch account and get to him that way – like so many other drivers, he’s been on the racing rigs a lot.

We haven’t seen as much of the virtual racing as we’d like but it sounds like virtual motorsport has been a huge success over the last few months and that’s great.

And now the season begins…

At long last we have 8 races confirmed and many more likely to be confirmed soon. Formula 1 may look very different, but the racing resumes on Sunday 5th July in Austria and we’re very much looking forward to it!

You can see the calendar here, we’re updating it as soon as new races are confirmed.

Current rumours for additional races, include Mugello and Imola to create a triple run of races in Italy. Abu Dhabi will host the final race, potentially two of them and Russia is looking to be confirmed for it’s original date in September. But we’re only sharing the actual confirmed races for now. All 8 of the confirmed races are to be run behind closed doors, it will be a new experience to see how F1 handles this and the new working rules.

Get your Fantasy GP team setup and some predictions in for what could well be a bonkers season in Formula 1’s history.

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