Formula One News Roundup: Week Three

Welcome back to our weekly roundup of the most important news in Formula One, as the sport remains on lockdown due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. 

From a crazy idea snubbed at Red Bull to a driver going ‘Baldo’ plus Coronavirus related news, it has been quite a busy week in F1 so here are the five biggest stories which you should know about plus some news snippets. 

 

Marko in Hot Water at Red Bull

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Red Bull Advisor, Helmut Marko landed himself in hot water after advising their drivers – Alexander Albon and Max Verstappen to get infected with Coronavirus in a fitness camp alongside Junior drivers within the team. 

In an interview with Austrian TV channel – ORF, Marko claimed that “They are all strong young men in good health. That way they would be prepared whenever the action starts,”

Marko’s idea however “has not been well received,” by everyone else at Red Bull, which meant that the idea was consequently abandoned. 

 

Mercedes’ Medical Breakthrough

CPAP machine, mask and hose

Mercedes has successfully worked in partnership with University College London engineers and clinicians at UCLH to build new Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices which are currently in short supply and can help keep patients out of intensive care. 

40 devices have been delivered to UCHL and three other London based Hospitals on a trial basis, with the intention for Mercedes to start producing up to 1,000 CPAP devices per day from Monday if the trial proves successful. 

 

Baldo Norris

McLaren’s Lando Norris has fulfilled a promise to shave his hair after participating in a ‘Steam Aid’ event on Twitch, in which he played F1 2019, Rocket League and iRacing games with the aim of garnering over $10,000 in donations to help battle Coronavirus. 

His fans exceeded that target with $12,000 raised and so Norris shaved his hair live on his Twitch channel on Thursday, thereby declaring himself as ‘Baldo Norris’ despite being a novice in hair shaving like many young men are. 

 

McLaren Take Pay Cuts

McLaren Crew

With increasing uncertainty surrounding this season, McLaren have become the first team to put staff members on furlough leave with focus on “protecting jobs” in the long term. 

McLaren released a statement saying; “The McLaren Group is temporarily furloughing a number of employees as part of wider cost-cutting measures due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on its business.

“These measures are focused on protecting jobs in the short-term to ensure our employees return to full-time work as the economy recovers.”

Staff who have been placed on furlough won’t be permitted to work for three months, with the British Government paying up to 80% the salaries of staff kept on by their employers.

Carlos Sainz and Norris meanwhile have both taken voluntary pay cuts in their wages, unlike many other drivers who are yet to take pay cuts, although Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel are expected to do so in the coming weeks. 

 

Aston Martin Confirms F1 Return

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Aston Martin have officially confirmed a return to F1 after shareholders of Aston Martin Lagonda this week approved a £796m investmentdeal with Yew Tree Consortium, led by Racing Point owner – Lawrence Stroll. 

This deal means that Racing Point will be rebranded as Aston Martin F1 from next season and become a works F1 team, which Stroll described as a ‘huge privilege’ and can’t wait to be ‘implementing the strategy’ in the coming months.

In regards to his decision to rebrand Racing Point as Aston Martin F1 from next season, Stroll described the decision as ‘perfect sense’ because ‘A brand with the pedigree and history of Aston Martin needs to be competing at the highest level of motorsport.’

At this moment in time, there is set to be no changes in terms of staff as Stroll is determined to give the team who he described as ‘true racers’ a chance to impress as ‘they deserve this opportunity to represent this legendary brand.

He however has made it clear that there will be ‘more pressure and expectation’ once the team becomes Aston Martin F1 from next season, with a ‘need to be competitive from the outset.’

 

News Snippets

  • Silverstone have set a deadline of late April to decide whether to hold the British Grand Prix on its scheduled date of 17-19 July, or alternatively either postpone or cancel this year’s event. 
  • F1 is open to reverse grid or layout races at multiple tracks in order to bolster this season’s calendar if necessary, with Silverstone open to the idea despite being ‘not licensed’ to do reverse track races. 
  • Ferrari Team Principal, Mattia Binotto has claimed in an interview with Sky Sports Italia that this season could finish in January 2021 if necessary, despite teams being in “close dialogue” with F1 on how best to move forward. 
  • Mercedes’ Dual-Axis Steering (DAS) will still be banned for 2021 despite regulations remaining unchanged next season for financial reasons. 
  • Jenson Button, Alex Albon, Charles Leclerc and George Russell will be making their eSport bow this weekend in the Virtual Australian Grand Prix. Norris and Nicholas Latifi meanwhile both return as a host of celebrities battle the real-life motorsport drivers. 
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