F1 Virtual Grand Prix results: Charles Leclerc takes dominant victory before vow to ‘entertain’ during coronavirus lockdown

Charles Leclerc dominated the second Virtual Grand Prix to lead from start to finish in a vastly improved F1 eSports event, with the current Ferrari star showing his talent isn’t just limited to the tarmac.

The Monegasque inherited pole position from Renault’s Christian Lundgaard, who despite setting the fastest time of the qualifying session received a five-place grid penalty and had to start down in sixth.

The grid featured more than double the number of current F1 drivers this time round, with Lando Norris and Nicholas Latifi joined by Leclerc, George Russell, Alex Albon and Antonio Giovinazzi, while former world champion Jenson Button took part in his first virtual race alongside other ex-F1 stars in Johnny Herbert, Anthony Davidson, Stoffel Vandoorne and Esteban Gutierrez as well as England cricketer Ben Stokes and Leclerc’s 19-year-old brother Arthur.

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Frustratingly though, the technical gremlins that blighted the inaugural Virtual GP returned that meant neither Norris nor Gutierrez were able to compete in the race, while the event got underway with little notice before lights out to the point that many will have missed the start itself.

That said, it was a much-improved event that delivered a full-length 28-lap race and plenty of good clean racing – something that couldn’t be said in Bahrain – a drivers got to grips with the Codemasters F1 2019 game.

From the moment that Leclerc exited the opening corner with a one-second lead, the Ferrari star never looked like losing as he cantered to victory to add to his two Grand Prix wins last season, but behind him played out an exciting and accident-packed race that saw Danish F2 driver Lundgaard fight back into second and WIlliams star Russell take third, thanks largely to Arthur Leclerc’s inability to stay on the track.

Leclerc spun out of second on lap eight, not long after Russell himself had made a mistake to drop behind Lundgaard, and after fighting his way back onto the gearbox of the Williams, he went off once more to cost himself a place on the podium.

An opening-lap crash for Albon cost the Red Bull driver a chance of mixing it at the front end as he ended up coming home in eighth, while Button provided plenty of forceful defending as he got to grips with the Virtual Grand Prix, with the 2009 world champion eventually coming home just outside the top 10. Meanwhile, 2019 Cricket World Cup-winner Stokes found himself in a baptism of fire, as a late error saw him inherit last place from Herbert to come home last of the 18 finishers.

But for Leclerc, the joy of victory was matched by the responsibility to entertain those locked down at home, with the F1 absence stretching into a third consecutive weekend without any action due to the coronavirus outbreak – which was made all the more impressive given he only started practising last weekend.


F1 driver line-up 2020





1/21 F1 2020

2/21 Mercedes – Lewis Hamilton (No 44)

3/21 Mercedes – Valtteri Bottas (77)

4/21 Ferrari – Charles Leclerc (16)

5/21 Ferrari – Sebastian Vettel (5)

6/21 Red Bull – Max Verstappen (33)

7/21 Red Bull – Alexander Albon (23)

8/21 McLaren – Carlos Sainz (55)

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1/21 F1 2020

2/21 Mercedes – Lewis Hamilton (No 44)

3/21 Mercedes – Valtteri Bottas (77)

4/21 Ferrari – Charles Leclerc (16)

5/21 Ferrari – Sebastian Vettel (5)

6/21 Red Bull – Max Verstappen (33)

7/21 Red Bull – Alexander Albon (23)

8/21 McLaren – Carlos Sainz (55)

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“Eight days ago, last Sunday but I put quite a lot of hours into it,” he said afterwards. “To tell you how much I don’t know, but probably at least five hours each day every day and at the end of the week we all linked together with George, Alex and the others and stream everything live and it was very fun so we’ll continue to do that. 

“Obviously it’s a hard time for absolutely everyone staying at home so we try our best to entertain everyone at home and hopefully this was the case tonight and we’ll try to do many more in the next few weeks.”

Rather interestingly, Leclerc admitted that while the physical challenge was nowhere near what drivers experience out on the track, it still wasn’t an easy night’s work.

“It was unbelievably hard, and yes we are sitting on a chair so there’s not the G-force in a real car but I’m sweating like crazy,” he added. “The muscles are not hurting as much but I’ve been concentrating just as hard and sweating like mad.

“They (other drivers) shouldn’t have the mistakes. It was tough, everyone was very quick, and I think we all knew that the one who did the least mistakes would win because we were all so close in pace.”

The postponed Chinese Grand Prix will take place next in two weeks’ time, with Leclerc hoping to be able to try make it two from two after missing the Bahrain Grand Prix, while hopefully Norris can finally see lights out to show the world that his eSports talent match up to his ability to entertain from the seat of his simulator.

Results

1. Charles Leclerc

2. Christian Lundgaard

3. George Russell

4. Arthur Leclerc

5. Antonio Giovinazzi

6. Stoffel Vandoorne

7. Louis Deletraz

8. Alex Albon

9. Jimmy Broadbent

10. Nicholas Latifi

Source: Read Full Article

F1 teams 'could go under', warns McLaren boss Zak Brown

F1 teams ‘could go under’, warns McLaren boss Zak Brown as sport’s chiefs hold talks over cost-saving plans amid the coronavirus crisis

  • Brown says Formula One is in a ‘very fragile state’ as a result of the pandemic
  • The McLaren boss wants the £143m budget cap to be lowered for next season 
  • Cost-saving plans will be discussed at a meeting of F1 team bosses on Monday 

Formula One is in a ‘very fragile state’ as a result of the coronavirus crisis and needs big changes to survive, says McLaren boss Zak Brown. 

‘This is potentially devastating to teams, and if it is devastating to enough teams — which doesn’t have to mean more than two — then it is very threatening to Formula One as a whole,’ he said. 

Cost-saving plans will be discussed at a meeting of bosses on Monday, but the teams are divided over how to safeguard the sport. 

McLaren boss Zak Brown (right) insists that Formula One needs big changes to survive

Brown, speaking in an interview with BBC Sport, said he believed that the $175million (£143m) budget cap, which is scheduled to come into force in the 2021 season, needs to be lowered significantly, or the sport risks a potential disaster. 

‘Could I see — through what is going on right now in the world if we don’t tackle this situation head on very aggressively — two teams disappearing? Yes,’ said Brown, the chief executive officer of McLaren Racing 

HOW CORONAVIRUS HAS HIT THE WORLD OF SPORT SO FAR

2020 OLYMPIC GAMES  

The 2020 Olympic Games has been postponed until 2021 on March 24 – becoming one of the last major sporting events this summer to fall victim to the coronavirus.

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe held a crucial conference call with Olympics chief Thomas Bach on Tuesday to formally decide a plan and they have chosen to postpone for 12 months.

The decision also means the Tokyo Paralympic Games will be subject to a one-year delay.

Despite the delay, the name of the delayed Games will still be Tokyo 2020, the city’s governor Yuriko Koike revealed.

A joint statement from the IOC and Tokyo 2020 organising committee read: ‘In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO today, the IOC President and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.

‘The leaders agreed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times and that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present. 

‘Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan. It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.’ 

There was plenty of scepticism whether the Olympics would pull through and continue as scheduled while events linked to the games were called off. The Olympic torch relay in Greece was cancelled on Friday March 13 – just a day after the flame was lit in Olympia.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games have been postponed by one year due to the coronavirus

Large crowds mobbed Hollywood actor Gerard Butler as he lit the cauldron in the Greek city of Sparta despite repeated warnings for spectators not to attend because of coronavirus.

That forced the decision by the Greek Olympic Committee to halt the torch relay on Greek soil on just the second day of its scheduled eight-day journey. It is the only the third time that a relay to Athens for the summer Games has not been completed.

The Olympic flame will still be handed over to the Tokyo 2020 organising committee at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens on Thursday March 19, but without fans present. 

Athletes were told to keep training but many struggled considering the government lock-down measures put in place. 

On Friday March 13 US president Donald Trump’s suggestion to postpone the Tokyo Olympics for a year because of the coronavirus was immediately shot down by Japan’s Olympic minister.

‘The IOC and the organising committee are not considering cancellation or a postponement – absolutely not at all,’ Seiko Hashimoto, an Olympic bronze medalist, told a news conference in Tokyo.

On Tuesday March 17, Kozo Tashima, one of the Japanese Olympic Committee’s vice presidents and president of the Japanese Football Association, tested positive for coronavirus.  

The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo organisers have stayed on message since the viral outbreak in China three months ago spread across Asia and then the globe: The games will open as scheduled on July 24. 

Tokyo 2020 organisers received the Olympic flame in a scaled-down handover ceremony in the Greek capital on March 19. 

ATHLETICS 

The World Athletics Indoor Championships, which was due to be held from March 13-15 in Nanjing, is postponed until March 2021.

The World Athletics Indoor Championships in Nanjing, China, has been postponed due to concerns over the danger of the coronavirus and its ability to spread

North Korea cancelled the Pyongyang Marathon scheduled for April after imposing a border lockdown due to the level of outbreak in South Korea, where the Seoul Marathon is cancelled in a bid to protect runners.

The Paris half-marathon is cancelled and the French government also decided to ban all public gatherings of more than 100 people, before ordering people to stay at home from March 15 for at least 15 days. The race involving some 44,000 competitors was scheduled for Sunday March 1. Organisers said the race will be postponed to a date yet to be determined.

The London Marathon, which had been scheduled to take place on April 26, has been postponed until October 4. Over 40,000 runners were due to take part. 

The Barcelona marathon scheduled for March 15 has been postponed until October.

BOXING 

Olympic boxing qualifiers to be staged in Wuhan were cancelled by the International Olympic Committee, but went ahead in Amman from March 3-11.

The IBF title fight between Daniele Scardina and Andrew Francillette in Milan on February 28 was postponed by Matchroom due to restrictions in Italy following the outbreak.

The Japanese boxing commission cancelled all fight cards scheduled for March on government advice to suspend all pending sporting fixtures. They will not be rescheduled.

Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce’s Battle of Britain has been pushed back from April to July

The British Boxing Board of Control announced on Tuesday March 17 that all boxing events under their jurisdiction for March will be postponed due to the coronavirus.

That decision has lead to the heavyweight clash between Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce being postponed. That fight, which had been penciled in for April 11, has been rescheduled for July 11 at the O2 Arena. 

Anthony Yarde, who was due to fight Lyndon Arthur on the undercard of the all-British clash, announced on March 29 that his father had died as a result of contracting the coronavirus. 

He revealed in an Instagram post that he had no underlying health issues and urged everyone to stay at home.  

Matchroom Boxing has also postponed all events scheduled for March and April, including Josh Kelly’s European title fight against Russia’s David Avanesyan (scheduled for March 28). 

The European Olympic boxing qualification tournament in London has been suspended. It was due to secure qualification for Tokyo 2020 for 77 male and female boxers, with 322 taking part. 

Matchroom Boxing chief Eddie Hearn has said Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight title defence against Kubrat Pulev, which is scheduled for June 20, could be rearranged for July. All Matchroom promoted fights in March and April have been postponed. 

Canelo Alvarez vs Billy Joe Saunders, earmarked for May in Las Vegas, was postponed before even being announced, however the Mexican is reportedly still planning to make the bout happen in June. 

CRICKET 

England’s tour of Sri Lanka was postponed on March 13, with the England and Wales Cricket Board citing ‘completely unprecedented times’.

The decision was confirmed while Joe Root’s side were in the field at Colombo’s P Sara Oval, contesting a warm-up game for a two-Test series.

On March 18, the West Indies offered to host England’s upcoming home Tests against them in the Caribbean instead of in the UK – should the coronavirus outbreak not have improved by then. England are due to face the Windies in a a three-Test series, which is due to start at the Oval on June 4 but could be delayed until September. If playing the series in England proves unworkable, CWI have offered to step in for this series, and also for England’s three Tests against Pakistan, due to start on July 30. Although there are Covid-19 cases in the Caribbean, its impact there has been limited so far. 

The start of the Indian Premier League season has also been delayed until April 15. The 2020 campaign had been set to start on March 29. The IPL franchises are also ready to quarantine their foreign players for a period of 14 days, if travel restrictions are lifted to allow them to arrive.

On March 13, India’s ongoing one-day international series against South Africa was postponed, while Australia’s one-day internationals against New Zealand will be played behind closed doors.

Scotland’s one-day series against the United States and UAE have been postponed. The games were scheduled to be played in Florida in April. 

England’s cricketers would not play any rescheduled Test series against West Indies in the Caribbean until December at the earliest, it emerged on March 19.

CYCLING 

Cycling’s Giro d’Italia has been called off, with the race scheduled to start in Hungary in May. 

The final two stages of the UAE Tour were cancelled after two members of staff on the race were suspected of having the disease. 

Danish cyclist Michael Morkov was tested for coronavirus after being put in isolation

The Tour de France is under threat of cancellation, with the scheduled start in Nice taking place in just over three months, on June 27. With British and French governments anticipating that the pandemic will last until the summer, race organizers are studying alternative scheduling. 

The Paris-Roubaix cycling race, another major event on the French sports calendar, was postponed due to the pandemic, while the April 5 Tour of Flanders, only previously cancelled during World War I, was also postponed in a further sign that Le Tour is under grave threat.

FOOTBALL 

This summer’s Euro 2020 tournament has been moved to next summer (2021) following a UEFA conference held on March 17. The postponement provides a chance for European club competitions to be completed.

All football in England is suspended until at least April 30 – but the 2019-20 season should eventually be completed after the FA bend their own rules to extend the campaign INDEFINITELY after holding crisis talks on March 19.

The decisions to suspend follows players and staff becoming affected by the virus, or individuals self-isolating as a precaution after reporting symptoms consistent with Covid-19.

The Premier League has moved to cancel games following the global outbreak of coronavius

The Premier League clash between Manchester City and Arsenal, scheduled for March 11, had already been postponed as a ‘precautionary measure’ after Olympiacos and Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis tested positive for coronavirus weeks after watching his Greek team play at the Emirates Stadium. 

On March 13, UEFA announced all Champions League and Europa League fixtures scheduled are postponed, as well as the quarter-final draws for both competitions. UEFA hope to conclude the competitions in the summer but no dates are yet set. 

Birmingham City become the first Championship side to see players take temporary 50 per cent wage cuts to ease financial pressure.  Leeds United soon followed in a bid to keep paying all of their non-football staff. 

All Chinese domestic fixtures at all levels were postponed and the season pushed back, the first football to be affected by the outbreak in the country of its origin. However, reports suggest that the league could resume on April 18 as China gets to grip with the virus.

Asian Champions League matches involving Guangzhou Evergrande, Shanghai Shenhua and Shanghai SIPG are postponed until April.

The start of the Korean K-League season is postponed. The four teams in the AFC Champions League are playing their matches behind closed doors.

Japan’s J-League postponed all domestic games until the middle of March, but further delays are inevitable. 

Ludogorets players were taking no chances after the coronavirus outbreak in Italy

Italy, the country worst hit by the virus outside China, suffered a spate of cancellations before the government put the population on lockdown. All sport, including Serie A games, were suspended until at least April 3 to contain the virus.

In France, it was announced on Friday 13 March that there will be no top-flight football in France for the immediate future after their governing body postponed all matches.  

In Spain, April 18’s Copa del Rey final between between Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad has been postponed. LaLiga is also postponed until the end of March at least.

Germany’s Bundesliga, the other major European league, is also suspended until April 3 at least. 

The Dutch Eredivisie and Portugal’s Primeira Liga are also suspended.

The Football Association of Ireland announced that all football under its jurisdiction will cease until March 29. 

Major League Soccer has been suspended for 30 days until mid-April with David Beckham’s first Inter Miami home game delayed.  

The South American Football Confederation postponed this year’s Copa America, due to take place from 12 June to 12 July, until 2021.

FIFA said that the newly-expanded Club World Cup, originally scheduled to take place in China in June 2021, will be postponed and a new date announced when ‘there is more clarity on the situation’.

On March 13, the FA announced that all of England’s games scheduled for the month would be postponed, including those of development teams. It means that England’s friendlies with Italy and Denmark have been called off.    

Euro 2020 play-off matches due to be held on March 26, including Scotland v Israel have been put off until June. 

Olympiakos’ owner Evangelos Marinakis has tested positive for the coronavirus

Manchester United clash at Austrian side Lask was behind closed doors, with United handing out £350 to each fan to help with travel and accommodation after they sold 900 tickets for the Europa League game. 

Newcastle United banned their players from shaking hands with each other amid coronavirus fears. 

Cristiano Ronaldo went into isolation in Madeira after it emerged that his Juventus team-mate, Daniele Rugani, has coronavirus. Squad members Blaise Matuidi and Paolo Dybala also tested positive. 

Elsewhere in Italy, Fiorentina striker Patrick Cutrone, who is on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers, tested positive for coronavirus.

In Spain, 35% of Valencia’s squad staff tested positive for coronavirus, with all cases being asymptomatic. 

Real Madrid’s first-team squad were in quarantine after a member of the basketball team tested positive for Covid-19. The two teams share the same training facility.   

Liverpool have announced a charity match between a Reds Legends side and Barcelona Legends, due to be played at Anfield on March 28, has been postponed.

FIFA says it will postpone South American World Cup qualifying matches due to take place in March. 

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for coronavirus on March 12 with the entire first-team squad being put into isolation. The Gunners’ game against Brighton, scheduled for Saturday March 14, has been postponed.

In the early hours of Friday, March 13, Chelsea announced that winger Callum Hudson-Odoi had been diagnosed with the illness.

The club’s first team went into self-isolation, while two buildings at their training ground in Cobham were closed. 

Premier League clubs, including Manchester United and Manchester City, have sent players home to train alone following the British government’s increasing crackdown on mass gatherings and unnecessary social contact.   

West Ham chief Karren Brady called for the season to be null and void while Aston Villa believe no team should be relegated. In this situation Liverpool, the runaway league leaders, could face the horror of being denied the title despite being on the brink of securing their first league trophy in nearly 30 years.

Reports suggest football bodies across England and the rest of Europe are bracing themselves for a reported total shutdown of every league until September.

Top-level English and Scottish football was initially suspended until April 3 at the earliest. The Football Association, the Premier League, the English Football League, FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship all agreed to call a halt to competitive action with immediate effect. 

All levels of English football below the National League North and South have been called off and voided with no promotion and relegation due to the calendar being decimated by the coronavirus outbreak.  

FORMULA ONE 

The season-opening Australian Grand Prix was called off after a McLaren team member came down with Covid-19, leading to the British team pulling out prior to a decision being made on whether the race would still go ahead. 

The announcement came hours after Lewis Hamilton said it was ‘shocking’ that the race was going ahead. 

The Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 19 was the first race to be postponed, with no decision over whether it will be reinserted into the 2020 calendar for later in the season. 

The Bahrain Grand Prix, scheduled for March 20-22, is also called off, as is the inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix, which was scheduled to take place in Hanoi on April 5. 

It was hoped that the Dutch Grand Prix on May 3 would be the first race of the new season but that has also been postponed due to Covid-19. 

The iconic Monaco Grand Prix on May 24 was cancelled for the first time in 66 years before Formula One announced their race in Azerbaijan had been postponed. 

The Chinese GP was first to be cancelled and other races could yet follow that lead

GOLF 

On March 13, the Masters was postponed. In a statement released online, Fred Ridley, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, emphasised that the decision makers hope to hold the championship ‘at some later date’. The first men’s major of the year was due to begin on April 9.

The US PGA Championship, the second major of the year, has now joined the  Masters in being postponed. It had been due to take place at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco from May 11-17, but has been rescheduled for later this summer.

After deciding to play with no spectators from the second round of the Players Championship onwards, the PGA Tour cancelled the event entirely after the first round on March 12. 

They also scrapped the following three events leading up to the Masters, but after that was cancelled four further events in April and May – the RBC Heritage, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, the Wells Fargo Championship and the AT&T Byron Nelson – also bit the dust. It is hoped that the season can be resumed in late May.

The European Tour have cancelled all tournaments until the popular Made in Denmark event on May 21. Many of them were due to be held in China or east Asia in countries badly hit by the outbreak.

The women’s game has also been hit by postponements and cancellations, with the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration, the highest profile casualty.

The Masters has been postponed for the first time since the Second World War

Lorenzo Gagli and Edoardo Molinari were withdrawn from the Oman Open on medical grounds after Gagli showed symptoms of the virus. He shared a hotel room with Molinari and he was told to self-isolate. They were later reinstated to the tournament after testing negative for the virus. 

HORSE RACING 

The Grand National was called off following new British government restrictions to fight the spread of coronavirus made it impossible to stage the Aintree showpiece on April 4. The Cheltenham Festival went ahead amid some criticism before the social distancing measures were tightened. 

The Japan Racing Association revealed that ‘government-sanctioned races’ will go ahead behind closed doors.  

Racing in Ireland attempted to take place behind closed doors starting on March 29 – but that decision was changed after government cancelled all sporting events.  

The Dubai World Cup meeting will go ahead on March 28 ‘without paid hospitality spectators’. 

Racing Post forced to temporarily suspend publication of the flagship daily racing newspaper for the first time since their inception in 1986 due to all action in UK and Ireland being suspended.  

The Cheltenham Festival went ahead despite travel disruption caused by the virus

RUGBY 

This year’s Six Nations will have to wait for its conclusion with all remaining games postponed.

England’s game with Italy and Ireland’s trip to France had already been called off with Wales and Scotland leaving it until the day before before calling off their game. 

Saturday, 31 October is a possible date for the final weekend of matches. 

The Women’s Six Nations has also been hit by postponements.

Ireland’s Six Nations encounter with Italy on March 7 has been postponed

The RFU has suspended all levels of rugby in England until April 14, with the announcement coming shortly after the Premiership was halted for five weeks. 

The quarter-finals of the European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup have also been postponed. Those games were scheduled for April 3, 4 and 5.   

The RFL and rugby league’s Super League have now followed suit and postponed all fixtures for at least three weeks. Eight Leeds Rhinos players had been confirmed to be self-isolating.  

TENNIS

Wimbledon has been cancelled for the first time since World War II as All England Club chiefs called the tournament off at an emergency meeting.

It was considered impossible for the tournament to be moved back to later in the year, or to be played without fans, and so chiefs have pulled the plug entirely.

This is the first time that Wimbledon will not be staged since 1945. Only one Grand Slam has missed a year since the war, the 1986 Australian Open, and that was for the technical reason of the date shifting forward from December into January. 

The French Open, one of the four Grand Slam tournaments, is postponed until September amid a wide lockdown in France.

The clay-court major was scheduled for May 24 to June 7, but that has shifted to September 20 to October 4, after the US Open, which was due to be the final major of the year. 

Players have been quick to criticise the move, which has created a conflict with the Laver Cup men’s team event spearheaded by Roger Federer, and a women’s tournament in China.

All events on the ATP Tour have been suspended for six weeks. 

The BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells in California, set to start on March 9, was postponed at the eleventh hour.  It came after a confirmed case of the coronavirus in the nearby Coachella Valley.

The final of an ATP Challenger event in Bergamo, Italy, between Enzo Couacaud and Illya Marchenko of Ukraine was cancelled. Both players received ranking points and prize money for getting to the final. They were denied the opportunity to play behind closed doors.

China forfeited a Davis Cup tie because the men’s team were unable to travel to Romania for the March 6-7 play-off.

WTA events have also been cancelled. The WTA announced they are assessing their schedule with a number of events set for China in the second half of the season.

The International Tennis Federation has announced that the Fed Cup finals have been postponed. The event was due to be held in Budapest in April and the competition’s play-offs, which were set to take place in eight different locations, have also been placed on hold.

The WTA also announced no tournaments will be staged for at least five weeks.   

Wimbledon has been cancelled for the first time since World War II

OTHER SPORTS 

The NBA has been suspended indefinitely after two Utah Jazz players contracted the virus. On March 17 Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant confirmed he had tested positive for the virus alongside three unnamed team-mates.

In an aid to decrease risks of exposure to the virus, the NBA had told players to avoid taking items such as pens, markers, balls and jerseys from autograph seekers. 

The NHL has announced it has paused the 2019-20 season with no date confirmed for when it will resume. 

The UFC has cancelled its next three events, although president Dana White is still pushing ahead for the highly-anticipated lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson. 

MotoGP have cancelled their first two races of the season in Qatar and Thailand. 

South Korea’s baseball league cancelled all 50 pre-season game which were slated to take place from March 14-24. It is the first time since the leagues inception in 1982 that an entire set of exhibition matches are off. 

The first-stage draw for the Table Tennis World Championships, scheduled for South Korea from March 22-29, is postponed.

A beach volleyball tournament, due to be held in Yangzhou from April 22-26, is postponed until after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

World Short track speed skating championship in Seoul is cancelled.

The World Triathlon Series event in Abu Dhabi was postponed as a precautionary measure.  

The Women’s World Ice Hockey Championships in Canada have been cancelled.   

All 72 pre-season baseball games in Japan are to take place behind closed doors

In badminton, the German Open (March 3-8), Vietnam Open (March 24-29) and Polish Open (March 26-29), all Olympic qualifying events, are cancelled due to ‘strict health protection’. 

The Japanese professional baseball league made the decision to play their 72 pre-season games behind closed doors until March 15. Baseball is among the most popular sports in Japan.  

Doubts remain as the Asian weightlifting championships, scheduled for March, are relocated from Kazakhstan to neighbouring Uzbekistan. They could still be postponed. 

Source: Read Full Article

Veloce Esports Not the GP ‘Versus’: Start time, live stream and drivers for virtual event

The coronavirus pandemic has caused the start of the F1 2020 season to be delayed. Esports has now taken centre stage as real-world drivers battle it out with the leading sim stars in a series of virtual races.

Veloce Esports will today be staging a ‘Versus’ event, which will see drivers go head-to-head in an elimination tournament.

McLaren star Lando Norris has signed up to take part, with the F1 star featuring heavily in virtual races over the last few weeks.

Norris has also participated in F1’s official Virtual Grand Prix series, but the 20-year-old enjoys the competitive aspect of the Veloce events.

“The F1 one is more celebrities, people like Liam Payne. The Veloce one I would say is a little bit more serious in some ways,” Norris said.

ALSO SEE – Silverstone chief teases plan to host multiple F1 races this season

https://www.youtube.com/embed/WWyHOU6SCf8

“We have some big YouTubers and content creators, but we have more simulator drivers, people who play on F1 2019, and more professional drivers.

“The F1 one is in a slight way more of a fun and entertainment, more of a relaxed race rather than focusing as much for myself anyway, because there are more celebrities rather than professionals taking it seriously race like the Veloce one.

“I probably like the Veloce ones at the moment a bit more, because you do have to take them a bit more seriously.

“The F1 ones are also fun because you’re still racing against some real drivers, but it’s not quite as serious.”

READ MORE

  • Jenson Button accuses The Race Legends Trophy rivals of sneaky tactics

What time does the Esports event start today?

Not the GP ‘Versus’ is scheduled to get underway at 6pm BST.

How can I watch the event?

Not the GP ‘Versus’ will be shown live on Veloce Esports’ YouTube and Twitch channels.

Who is racing today?

Lando Norris – F1 Driver

Jamie Chadwick – W Series Champion and Williams F1 Test Driver

Nicolas Latifi – F1 Driver

Stoffel Vandoorne – Ex-F1 and FE Driver

Esteban Gutierrez – Ex- F1 Driver

Ian Poulter – PGA Golfer

Thibaut Courtois – Real Madrid Goalkeeper

Chris Lake – DJ

David Schumacher – Racing Driver

Archie Hamilton – Car YouTuber

Aarava Amin – F1 YouTuber

Ben Daly – F1 YouTuber

Artem Markelov – F2 Driver

Sacha Fenestraz – Japanese F3 Champion

Jay Pietsmiet – YouTuber

Willne – YouTuber

Source: Read Full Article

McLaughlin a virtual Indycar champion

With his real Indycar series debut on hold, Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin is giving the Indycar drivers a lesson in virtual racing.

Invited as a guest driver and watched by a US television audience, McLaughlin had to wake at 2am on Sunday at his Brisbane home to contest the second iRacing series race at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama on his simulator.

Scott McLaughlin, driver of the #2 Shell V-Power Team Penske Chevrolet, celebrates after winning the IndyCar iRacing Challenge Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. Picture: Chris Graythen/Getty ImagesSource:AFP

Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin in his simulatorSource:Supplied

The early start didn’t faze him as he won from countryman and Penske teammate Will Power, who was racing from his home in North Carolina, and Indycar rookie Alex Salou, who was in Spain.

McLaughlin, who placed fourth in last week’s first race, said hours of practice as a teen were paying dividends as the Indycar series attempts to create content during the worldwide shutdown of sports.

And just like that, @smclaughlin93 is back in the lead. 4 to go. @12WillPower working on a late charge.#INDYCAR // #INDYCARChallenge // @iRacing pic.twitter.com/30lix4x5hU

“I started iRacing 10 years ago and it was the best thing I did,” said McLaughlin. “For an aspiring race car driver, it is worth the investment in your future. It’s been an awesome tool for me and it’s great fun.” McLaughlin said his rig was not as flashy as some of the big simulators used by the stars and his is actually set for a touring car. It was 6am at McLaughlin’s house when he virtually crossed the finish line.

“You know, eSports has really been on the rise the last few years, and it’s really taken off during this pandemic,” McLaughlin said.

Scott McLaughlin, with some odd virtual spectators in shot as he races in the IndyCar iRacing Challenge Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. Picture: Chris Graythen/Getty Images/AFSource:AFP

McLaughlin drives for Roger Penske in Australia and the team owner had planned to give McLaughlin his series debut in May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. That plan was scrapped when the IndyCar season was suspended last month. NBC Sports aired the virtual race on its cable channel with its usual broadcast crew of Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy all calling action from their respective homes.

IRacing controlled the feed, but drivers used their own social media channels to give viewers a closer look at their experience.

The most entertaining driver through the race was Conor Daly on one of his social media feeds, where he lamented, “this is literally the least fun I’ve had the entire quarantine,” after he was run off course.

Finished second today. Congratulations to @smclaughlin93 for taking the win.

// #INDYCAR / #INDYCARChallenge / @PenskeESports pic.twitter.com/5PWZds1yXF

Daly also alerted viewers that Power on his radio had called five-time Indycar series champion Scott Dixon of New Zealand “a wanker” – an offence that led iRacing to cut Power’s chat ability.

Later, after Dixon spun, Daly noted that’s the difference between real racing and the virtual product.

“You know this isn’t real life because Dixon just spun a car. There’s no way that would happen in real life,” Daly said of the driver known as “The Iceman” for his cool demeanour.

Robert Wickens participated for the first time after a delay in the delivery of his steering wheel kept him out of last week’s race. Wickens suffered a spinal cord injury in a 2018 crash and needed a wheel with hand controls. “My return to IndyCar was exactly how I imagined it – in my basement. No, I’m just kidding,” Wickens said. “In a lot of ways it felt like the real thing, my eyes are burning. My first race back in IndyCar, a top 10.”

Originally published asMcLaughlin a virtual Indycar champion

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Lando Norris talks McLaren, Esports and Verstappen on Sky F1 Vodcast

McLaren’s Lando Norris gave the verdict on his new sheared look during his appearance on the latest Sky F1 Vodcast – and explained why it is right he is taking a pay cut amid the coronavirus crisis.

In the third instalment of the Vodcast, Norris chatted to Sky Sports’ Nico Rosberg, Anthony Davidson and host Simon Lazenby the day after the night before when he shaved his hair live on his Twitch channel.

  • Vodcast: Episode 1 – What next for F1 in 2020?
  • Vodcast: Episode 2 with Russell and Szafnauer
  • At Home with Sky F1: Watch all episodes so far

Not quite #BaldoNorris explained

Having promised to take the clippers to his hair if fans helped raise $10,000 as part of the online platform’s Stream Aid’s COVID-19 Solidarity Respond Fund, Norris stayed true to his word live on his channel on Thursday night – although stopped a few grades short of going for the completely sheared look

“I don’t know about the haircut, to be honest!” Norris admitted to the Sky F1 Vodcast panel. “I don’t think I look great in it, but it was for a good cause at the end of the day.

“I’m probably going to have to stay in my house for quite a while longer so by the time we get to race one, I’ll probably look exactly the same as I did when I attended Australia!”

A fantastic line-up for our third episode of the Sky F1 Vodcast! 🎙️

Newly bald @LandoNorris, @Nico_Rosberg and @AntDavidson join @Simon__Lazenby.

If this episode gets 250,000 views, Simon will shave his head! ✂️

Full Episode ➡️ https://t.co/DCg5XVgwMx#SkyF1 | #F1

On the commendable reasons behind the head shave, Norris said: “It was for the fight against COVID-19. It was for Stream Aid which was hosted by Twitch and I think we managed to raise in the end, not myself, something like $2.7m which was pretty cool – and I played a small part in that, which I was very happy to do.

“My 10k goal was the amount to shave my hair off. I didn’t say whether I would be bald or how much I would shave off, I just said I’d shave some of my hair off.

“Everyone obviously assumed I was going to be completely bald by the end of it, maybe I’ll get to that point. I need to stay with this for a while and get used to it and maybe for another stream idea, I’ll end up being bald. It was the fight against COVID-19 and to help the people who are struggling more.”

Why Lando has taken a pay cut

As part of measures to cut costs and protect jobs during the coronavirus crisis, the McLaren Group have put some staff on a two-month furlough – while the remaining workers have taken temporary pay cuts.

Drivers Norris and Carlos Sainz each voluntarily agreed to reduce their own wages as part of that latter measure and the 20-year-old Briton said: “It’s the best thing for all of us, including myself, at the moment to make sure that everyone can continue their jobs when we get back to being able to go to work.

“It’s a sad time for drivers, staff and everyone in Formula 1.

Due to the impact of COVID19, the McLaren Group has adopted difficult temporary measures regarding its staff to hopefully protect jobs in the long term. I fully understand these tough decisions and I have obviously decided to take a pay cut. We are all in this together. pic.twitter.com/O2woN7kYKt

“So many girls and guys who work so hard over so many years and over the winter to build a car and everything and you get to the point when everything is just put on hold.

“I hope not, but we might not be able to do much this year – maybe we won’t even do some races.

“To see everyone sitting at home when we love to be working on the car, finding lap time and trying to win races is a sad time for everyone. But it’s the best thing we can do for our team to make sure that when we can get back to work everyone can get back to work and everything can return and go back to normally, basically, instead of things having to change.”

Norris’ message for Verstappen on Virtual GPs

Although the racing season is on an indefinite hold, Norris has kept himself occupied at home with the youngster competing in sim racing across a multitude of races and hosting hugely-popular live events on Twitch.

Red Bull rival and friend Max Verstappen regularly competes against him in iRacing but the Dutchman has yet to follow into the Virtual GP world on the official F1 2019 game, with the second event taking place on Sunday night live on Sky Sports.

Asked if the Dutchman was running scared, Norris joked: “Absolutely!”

He then added: “No, I’ve got no clue. The F1 game is really good fun. You’re racing an F1 car, it still feels quick, the cornering speeds and everything. You get the feeling of driving a Formula 1 car in some aspects, and you get to drive on a lot of the F1 tracks, which is good.

“But you have some of the other programmes like iRacing, which is the one we compete against each other on, and there’s just more variety. You can race GT cars, you can do single seaters, you can do a lot more different stuff. That’s what I guess he [Verstappen] enjoys a bit more, the changing from one car to the other and the variety, rather than always driving on the F1 stuff.

“So I don’t think he’s driven on it [F1 2019] much anyway and he always says that when he joins something he wants to join and win. So I don’t know if he doesn’t want to join because he knows he’s not going to win, or the fact that he just doesn’t spend much time on it and therefore he’s not very confident.

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Jenson Button teaming with Lando Norris for McLaren in F1’s Virtual GP

Sky F1’s Jenson Button will return to McLaren – this time in the world of Esports – for a debut in F1’s Virtual Grand Prix series on Sunday.

Button, the 2009 world champion, will be back racing for them in the Virtual GP around Albert Park at 8pm on Sunday.

  • Virtual GP: The big questions answered

Button joins fellow Sky F1 pundits Johnny Herbert and Anthony Davidson in the field for Sunday’s race at 8pm – live on Sky Sports F1, Main Event and YouTube.

The 40-year-old joins six 2020 drivers signed up to race, with Charles Leclerc, Alex Albon, George Russell and Antonio Giovinazzi making their debuts, and Lando Norris and Nicholas Latifi returning.

So I’ve been roped in to taking part in the next Virtual Grand Prix this Sunday Live on @skysportsf1. Should be a good laugh, take it easy on this newbie @georgerussell63 @landonorris @charles_leclerc @nicholaslatifi @alex_albon 🙏🏽#f1 #everyracelive #skysportsf1 #melbourne #albertpark

A post shared by Jenson Button (@jensonbutton) on

World Cup-winning England cricketer Ben Stokes, meanwhile, is driving for Red Bull.

Button revealed on Sky F1’s new Vodcast series earlier this week that he had recently had a simulator delivered to his home in LA. He then got a taste for eSports in the same iRacing challenge that Max Verstappen and Norris compete in.

“He joined a race the other night on iRacing and he was surprisingly quick!” said Norris of the 40-year-old on Friday’s latest Vodcast.

“For the limited amount of time that I’m sure he’s had on it, he was pretty good. So I’m sure come Sunday I hope he can be a key player.

“These different games are not easy to get used to.

“Although it’s driving a car at the end of the day, it’s still how you drive and the physics of the tyre model [change]. A lot of different tips and tricks you need for each programme, each car and for each track. For him to kind to jump on to go against me and others you have spent hours and hours and days in the last couple of weeks on it, he did pretty good.”

Who’s taking part in Sunday’s F1 Virtual GP?

The confirmed list so far:
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
Arthur Leclerc, Ferrari
Alex Albon, Red Bull
Ben Stokes, Red Bull
Lando Norris, McLaren
Jenson Button, McLaren
Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo
Johnny Herbert, Alfa Romeo
George Russell, Williams
Nicholas Latifi, Williams
Anthony Davidson (TBC)
Andre Heimgartner, Renault
Christian Lundgaard, Renault

Why are they racing in Australia?

While the plan for the Esports series was to mirror the corresponding event from the F1 2020 calendar – the Virtual Bahrain GP took place on the same day as the ‘real’ Bahrain GP was due to happen, for instance – that was not possible this weekend. That’s because the Hanoi track which was supposed to host the inaugural Vietnam GP on the F1 calendar on Sunday, is not available on the 2019 F1 game.

That means they are racing ‘at’ Albert Park – which is handy as they missed out on racing there in the F1 2020 season-opener.

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Sky F1 Vodcast: George Russell and Otmar Szafnauer join the team

Williams driver George Russell and Racing Point chief Otmar Szafnauer joined the Sky F1 team on our latest must-watch Vodcast – with Wednesday’s guests discussing a range of Formula 1 topics, as well as how they’re coping during its enforced delay.

From Williams updates to topless cooking, Russell spoke to Simon Lazenby, Natalie Pinkham, Paul Di Resta and Johnny Herbert to kick-off the show, before Szafnauer enlightened us on how current behind-the-scenes talks are progressing in F1 during the coronavirus crisis.

Episode 2 of the Vodcast also included a round-up of what the 2020 grid are up to, the latest on Project Pitlane, a top-five F1 driver debate, and a look at Johnny’s Esports sim setup!

Otmar on a crucial period for F1

Formula 1 teams must make “prudent decisions” and “save costs” during the current pandemic to ensure their long-term futures in the sport, according to Szafaneur on the Sky F1 Vodcast.

Eight called-off races at the start of the season has raised the prospect of a significantly reduced 2020 calendar, which would result in a drop in income for F1’s 10 teams.

Lazenby compared the current economic worries to those during the financial crisis of 2008 – after which several big manufacturers, such as Toyota and BMW, left the sport – and Szafnauer admitted it was a concern.

“We lost quite a few manufacturers [in 2008], and we don’t want that to happen,” he said. “I remember at the time that we lost some teams as well and we had some new teams come in.

“What we’ve got to do is learn from that, do a bit of belt-tightening, make prudent decisions and save costs where we can because for sure the revenue isn’t going to be the same.”

How are the current talks going?

Szafnauer added that how much the 2021 cars are going to change for next year would be “very crucial” for some teams, as they try to save costs.

The major rules revolution for 2021 has been pushed back a year, but there has yet to be clarification on how much the current cars – yet to be raced – can be modified.

Szafnauer, whose outfit will become the Aston Martin F1 team next year, said: “Carrying the cars over, we’ve got to define what that means, and what parts are allowed to be developed.

“I think that will happen next week [during F1 meeting with teams] and we’ll have an idea what the cars are going to look like in 2021 and what we’re going to race. I hope they look like the cars we have produced now so that we save all the cost of developing a new car.

“That’s going to be very crucial for a lot of the teams, especially the smaller teams. When the revenue isn’t the same as we thought it’s going to be, we’ve got to make sure that the costs aren’t either.”

Expanding on the current discussions, he continued: “We’ve recently voted to allow FOM to establish the new calendar as they see fit, without input from the teams – apart from if they have a two-day weekend or three in a row. We’ll then have some input on the logistics and the capability of the team to complete such a calendar.

“And then we have relaxing some of the regulations for this year, the voting for this year, to majority. We need unanimity on everything and unanimity is difficult to get in Formula 1, even in trying times like this. So there are some regulations you only need a majority agreement, but others you still need unanimity.”

What about those Wolff-Aston rumours?

On the day that Racing Point’s rebrand to Aston Martin works status from next year was formally confirmed with major investment into the British car brand completed by a consortium led by team owner Lawrence Stroll, Szafaneur was also asked whether there was any truth to speculation that Mercedes’ title-winning boss Toto Wolff, a friend of Stroll’s, could join the Canadian there in 2021.

“It’s not really for me to say, that’s a better question for Toto, but if you’re asking me to guess, Toto this year and next year will be running Mercedes Grand Prix and trying to make history by winning another world championship,” replied Szafaneur.

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Formula 1: Red Bull working hard on ventilators – Christian Horner

Formula 1 is on shut down as a result of the coronavirus crisis, but Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says he’s “busier than ever – there’s a lot going on at the moment”.

With the first eight races all called off, and more likely to follow, F1 has brought forward its summer break so as to be in the best state possible whenever racing can start up again.

Meanwhile, the UK-based teams have turned their attentions to helping out with the supply of medical equipment, and team bosses such as Horner are engaged in serious talks about how best to secure the future of the sport in the midst of a crisis that he says is far more critical than the 2008 financial crash.

In a wide-ranging interview, the first by a team boss during the sport’s enforced hiatus, Horner discusses:

  • The project to supply ventilators to the NHS;
  • Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko’s controversial remarks about wanting his drivers to catch coronavirus;
  • Plans to postpone the radical 2021 regulations even further;
  • Talks on safeguarding F1;
  • Plans to revisit the controversy over Ferrari’s 2019 engine.

F1’s ventilator plan

As has been widely reported, the UK-based F1 teams have responded to the government’s call for industries to help boost the supply of critical care equipment to help the NHS deal with the influx of coronavirus patients.

There are three work streams on various types of equipment, and the work is being co-ordinated by F1 under their chief technical officer Pat Symonds.

Horner says the response from engineers and manufacturing staff to help with what is known as ‘Project Pitlane’ has been “overwhelming”.

“People like Rob Marshall, our chief designer, he has done a couple of all-nighters on this coming up with engineering solutions to issues they’ve encountered,” Horner says.

“The key thing is getting these systems out there as quickly as possible.

“F1’s ability to problem-solve is second to none and our ability to make rapid prototype parts is again second to none.

“So not just our team but all the teams have responded in a phenomenal way. I can only judge what’s going on in our our facility, and the efforts that the engineering team and R&D and manufacturing have put into this have been exemplary.”

The teams are unable to share many details of their work because the project is run by the government but Horner says: “Basically, we’ve been using the engineering skill of the relevant people to problem solve and knock out a few rapid prototypes and get it to the point of sign-off.”

Those Marko comments

Helmut Marko caused quite a stir on Monday when comments he had made to Austrian television on Sunday night emerged.

Marko, the right-hand man of Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz and the person who picks the drivers across the senior team and junior squad Alpha Tauri, volunteered that he had proposed all Red Bull’s drivers attend a fitness camp where – ideally, in Marko’s view – they would catch coronavirus so they would be fit and healthy whenever the season can re-start.

As Red Bull’s team boss, Horner was, it is fair to say, somewhat caught off guard by Marko’s remarks.

Now, he says: “As Helmut pointed out, when he raised it, it wasn’t received with support from within Red Bull. It was in many ways a throwaway comment before understanding the seriousness of the pandemic.

“Red Bull, yes, they have many athletes but the focus regarding all the actions that are going on at the moment is that this can affect young people, old people, vulnerable people. It is not a limited sector this applies to. So things like the ventilator project we are working on demonstrate how seriously we are taking this and how much effort’s going behind it.

“Helmut’s comments were made before understanding the severity. It has never been discussed or tabled as a serious suggestion.”

How teams are handling the virus lockdown

Other than those working on the ventilator projects, all F1 staff whose work relates to car performance are on an enforced break at the moment.

This normally happens in the summer, but the teams agreed with governing body the FIA to do it now so that F1 is able to cram in as many races as possible once restrictions on global travel are eased. The 2020 season could well, as a result, extend into January next year, before the 2021 championship starts up again in March.

Teams can choose when, before the end of April, to take their three-week shut down, and Red Bull’s began on Friday. In theory, it ends on 20 April, but Horner says he expects that to change.

“There will be a discussion during the break weekly, and I can only see it being extended,” he says. “I can see it being extended to the end of April, beginning of May and then reviewed again. There will be a discussion among the team principals, FIA and FOM in the next few days.”

In this period, the teams are also not doing any design and development work on their cars, and this, too, is likely to continue.

“It’s the only fair way of dealing with it,” Horner says. “It’s a competition at the end of the day. What’s right and logical at the moment is everybody abide by the same rules and the shut down, incorporate FIA conditions to it, until the teams are in a position to go back to work.”

As for paying staff, Horner says: “Obviously, we’re looking at what the government have communicated. All the teams again, all the HR managers between the teams are talking so there is as much consistency as possible.

“It’s very positive the teams are communicating in a positive and proactive manner. It reminds me very much of the 2008 financial crisis but this goes way beyond that.”

Is F1 under threat?

No races means reduced income, although exactly how much teams will lose can’t be known because of the huge uncertainties involved.

F1’s three main income streams of race-hosting fees, broadcast rights and sponsorship are all going to take a hit, so it’s easy to look at this crisis and be pessimistic about the future of the sport. But Horner believes F1 will pull through.

“F1 is a very strong business and it’s got enormous heritage,” he says. “F1 will survive this. Whether all the teams survive this is another matter, and it is the responsibility of all the team principals to act with the interests of the sport and all its participants (in mind), to do our best to ensure all 10 teams come out the other side.

“The difference in 2008 was we were still racing, there was still a calendar, there were still events. You could see the issue more clearly, whereas here we are more blind,” Horner says.

“When will we start racing again? It’s a different scenario. 2008 had its pressures and the people in the room at that time – Ron Dennis, Flavio Briatore and so on – were thinking about the interests of the sport and it is crucial we do that collectively at this time.

“The world is a different place at the moment. Of course revenue is hit very hard. We don’t know how hard it will hit F1 yet.

“All the teams have been reacting responsibly and collectively. Obviously some teams are more exposed than others, particularly the small ones, and it’s important that we try our best to protect the F1 community as best we can.”

F1 has been owned since early 2017 by US group Liberty Media and as a business is leveraged quite extensively with debt, but Horner says he believes this is not a major concern.

“To be honest, the Liberty structure is quite complicated and you can only imagine that Live Nation, the owner, is also taking a hit on the events business,” he says.

“But they have deep pockets as well. And they have always taken a long-term view on this. I think they will do whatever is needed to ensure the sport continues.”

More rule changes on the way

Back in 2008, F1 responded to the financial crash by introducing a series of measures that controlled costs.

The same is going on now. It has already been agreed to delay the major rule changes that were planned for next year, with the idea of making the racing closer, until 2022, and racing in 2021 with this season’s cars. And Horner says the new rules are now likely be deferred by a further year until 2023.

“The most fundamental and important thing is taking away the necessity to spend in order to be competitive,” he says. “So, freezing parts of the car. The monocoque’s already agreed. We’re looking at front suspension, uprights, wheels, all the associated parts for that, gearbox internals, probably 60% of the car other than its aerodynamic surfaces and that being frozen for this year and next year.

“We’re also talking about pushing back a further year the new regulations, because in my mind it would be totally irresponsible to have the burden of development costs in 2021.

“There seems to be reasonable agreement but it needs ratifying by the FIA to push back those development costs into 2022 for introduction in the ’23 season.

“The most important thing we need now is stability. Because the one thing we know is that whenever you introduce change you introduce cost, and stability right now and locking down as much of the car as possible is the most responsible way to drive those cost drivers down.”

There is also talk of lowering the budget cap that is due to come into force next year at $150m, but Horner says he believes this is not as important as other issues.

“There is positive and healthy discussion going on among all the teams to be responsible. And it’s not just about the cap.

“The cap is a ceiling. It is almost secondary as far as I’m concerned, it is reducing the cost in order to go racing. With, let’s say, 60% of the chassis frozen for the next 18 months, that will have a dramatic effect on reducing the operational costs of a Grand Prix team, whether that be for Red Bull or Williams.”

The Ferrari controversy

Getting through the coronavirus crisis has become the overwhelming priority for everyone in F1, but that does not mean people have forgotten other issues.

One that has been put on the back burner for now is the controversy over the confidential settlement reached by Ferrari and the FIA after an investigation into the Italian team’s engine last year.

Mercedes have backed away from that topic, leaving Red Bull leading the group of teams demanding more clarity over what was in that settlement.

Horner says that once the coronavirus situation is under control, he will be going back to FIA president Jean Todt looking for answers.

“At the moment that is secondary to the issues F1 is facing,” Horner says. “We want to deal with everything I’ve just discussed and then that will be picked up and addressed at a later date.

“We have raised some questions to the FIA. What I would say is that a confidential agreement regarding the technical compliance of a competitor’s car is obviously something that raises questions. And I’m sure at the relevant time we will have a conversation with Jean to try to understand why and what that agreement consists of.”

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Lando Norris to shave his head as F1 driver raises nearly £10,000 through eSports to donate to coronavirus battle

McLaren Formula One driver Lando Norris will have to shave his head after raising more than $10,000 from eSports racing in the fight against coronavirus.

The 20-year-old Briton, who has 1.3 million followers on Instagram and is a prolific gamer, made the pledge before taking part in a charity event on live streaming platform Twitch at the weekend.

The Formula One website said Norris’s stream was watched by more than 136,000 unique viewers as he played on F1 2019, Rocket League and iRacing.

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“Thanks to all my viewers for raising over $12,000 (£9,750) by the end of the night for #TwitchStreamAid and the fight against Covid-19! I do have to cut all my hair off now though…,” he said on Twitter.

McLaren team mate Carlos Sainz, who enjoys a jokey relationship with Norris, indicated he was looking forward to that: “Oh boy I’m ready,” said the Spaniard.

Formula One has yet to start its season, with two races cancelled and six more postponed so far and no prospect of getting underway until the European summer at the earliest due to the pandemic.

In the absence of any real racing, various esports series have offered alternatives for fans craving some form of live action.

Norris, an F1 rookie last year, has long been involved in virtual racing and has teamed up with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, while Williams Canadian rookie Nicholas Latifi has also emerged as an online talent.

Reuters

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