Start, Silverstone, 2019

Three races at Silverstone, new budget cap and aero rules discussed by F1 teams

2020 F1 season

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Formula 1 has discussed plans to begin its 2020 season with the Austrian Grand Prix, followed by a run of three races at Silverstone, RaceFans has learned.

New proposals for a lower budget cap and changes to the aerodynamic regulations were also considered in a teleconference between team principals and representatives of the FIA and Formula 1 Management today. The meeting, which lasted four-and-a-half hours, was described to RaceFans by multiple sources as “positive” and “constructive”.

A source claimed Austria is being targeted as the likeliest venue for a season-opening race. New restrictions on public events in France and Belgium have cast doubt on their ability to hold grands prix on their originally scheduled dates, while Austria which eased some of its lockdown restrictions this week.

Plans to hold a race behind closed doors at the Red Bull Ring were discussed at the meeting. By not opening the race to spectators, it could potentially be held earlier than its original scheduled dates of July 3rd to 5th, though Red Bull are thought to be against a change of dates.

Lance Stroll, Racing Point, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020
Will F1 have to ban fans from races to get its 2020 season started?
Teams discussed the possibility of following that event with a series of up to three races in four weeks at Silverstone. These would take place on at least two different versions of the Northamptonshire track. RaceFans understands the possibility of running the circuit in reverse did not find favour due to the cost of re-aligning crash barriers and run-off areas in order to ensure adequate safety standards.

Staging a series of races at Silverstone would minimise the amount of travelling by teams at a time when restrictions are likely to remain in place. The seven British-based teams would remain in the same country while those based elsewhere – Ferrari, AlphaTauri and Alfa Romeo – would station the majority of their staff at nearby hotels to limit their travel needs.

These races would also be held behind closed doors. RaceFans understands Liberty Media is prepared to make a payment to the circuit to make up for the loss of revenue from ticket sales after fans are refunded.

Further rules changes to reduce the huge financial pressure on teams resulting from the repeatedly postponed start to the season were also discussed.

While a proposal to introduce a ‘two-tier’ budget cap failed to win support, a new proposal to bring the spending limit down over the next two years was raised. This would see the 2021 budget cap fall from $175 million to $145 million, followed by a further cut to $130 million the year after.

Also discussed was a proposal to reduce the advantage of the wealthiest teams by limiting how much aerodynamic development they can do based on their constructors’ championship finishing positions. Under the plan, the leading teams in the championship each year would face tighter restrictions on their permitted wind tunnel and CFD work than their rival teams the following season.

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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51 comments on “Three races at Silverstone, new budget cap and aero rules discussed by F1 teams”

  1. I’m not keen on them using either of the 2 shorter National/International layouts as not only do they cut out the best series of corners (Maggotts/Becketts/Chapel) but I also don’t think either would be especially good for a racing perspective.

    The old Abbey/Bridge/Priory section still exists but looking at google maps it looks like they altered the old runoff at Priory to put a wall there for the current layout & i’m not sure how easy that would be to move or what else is there now so I don’t know how possible it is to use the old layout again. I’d love to see it though as I still think that layout is better than the new one they have run since 2010. It’s faster & has a much better flow to it.

    1. @stefmeister I wonder why that wasn’t the original proposal, rather than a reverse layout. I mean, surely modifying that wall you mention (I checked google maps too) is a loooooooooot easier than re-doing all the runoffs around teh whole track.

      Seems simple enough. Sure, it’d not change the track much, but hey! it’s something, and on the cheap. As you say, neither the National nor the International versions are anything good for modern F1, but then again, it could spice things up… The national circuit would be a, what?, sub-40 secs track. It’d make them dizzy!

      1. The old Bridge section of the circuit is delapidated, it’s now part of the general admission area. It would need to be relaid, likely gravel or tarmac runoff at Bridge corner and the one after, and the pedestrian areas altered. Not as simple as just removing a wall unfortunately.

    2. @stefmeister The old Bridge section has a gate with solid posts about 4 metres apart, well within the boundaries of the asphalt. It’s a bit of an obstacle when I run through there in my trainers, never mind in a racing car…

  2. Darran Donald
    16th April 2020, 19:55

    Hold a few races in Austria. There races are usually real good. Is there a longer endurance track that could be used too?

    1. @Darran Donald No.

    2. Agree. That track evens out the cars and makes for much better races than Silverstone.

    3. Darran Donald In fairness, the two venues could alternate to reduce monotony.

  3. They should use as many alternate layouts as possible.
    One thing which always spices up races is when track is unknown or when practice is curtailed as it stops the data scientists and engineers from poring over data and finding the best racing line across each corner (right down to the last millimeter) and finding the exact tyre degradation.

    Put a new layout and throw the teams at the deep end of the pull. Let them learn, drive and strategize on the fly

    1. Only that this is not F1, this is a sheer spectactle trying to please the bored fans. This season won’t be equal to all the previous ones in terms of conditions and I think it won’t happen anyway.

      1. Problem is that 3 races at Silverstone is very boring and gives Mercedes a unfair advantage. The same for Austria which gives Red Bull advantage. The problem is that track have their pro-teams that is why they race at different tracks.

        1. Ferrari is usually quick around the Red Bull ring too, even though they didn’t win a race on it yet in the hybrid era, they were very close in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Silverstone however is pretty much a Mercedes track but if they run different layouts that can give Ferrari and Red Bull a chance and in the last two years Mercedes was the slowest out of the top teams in Austria because they were struggling with tyre wear and engine temperatures. So that can also keep things in ballance.

        2. @macleod Mercedes is only at an advantage at Silverstone on the usual edition of the track. Nobody knows who has advantage on the two shorter layouts.

  4. I guess it is a positive that they are still talking as well as the fact the stupid idea of a two tier championship was not followed up on.

    Not too keen on having 3 races at Silverstone, even less so when they are in consequent weeks. Different layouts? Would be good if they did try to find alternative layouts that can work, but going for only half a race track doesn’t seem a good idea.

    Can they still use the previous layout?

    1. @bascb The section of the track most recently used in 2009 still exists, but I’m not sure if it would be usable for racing-purpose. @stefmeister brought this up earlier above.

      1. @jerejj Definitely not usable unless running races are going to be counted towards the championship. (Though if they are, Donington and Oulton Park have or have recently had licences for mass running races, so there’d definitely be variety possible without much travelling…)

        1. @alianora-la-canta Holding races at different circuits in the UK seems a nice compromise.

          1. @paeschli Bonus: Silverstone recently had a running event for charity on its track (with a very limited runner count to preserve social distancing). Race circuits are particularly good places to host this sort of event, and we can get plenty of crossover audience :)

    2. Going with shorter layouts can spice things up too. For example last year Leclerc would have been on pole if the lap ended in sector 2 but in the 3rd sector with a lot of slow corners that didn’t suit the Ferrari he lost time and had to settle for 3rd place. So even a shorter layout of the same track could alter the power rankings.

  5. “limiting how much aerodynamic development they can do based on their constructors’ championship finishing positions” — I hope that was only proposed to counter Ferrari’s two-tier idea. Success being punished would be terrible for F1’s prestige.

  6. I wouldn’t mind having three Silverstone-races, but the layout could and should just stay the same as there aren’t really any viable alternatives. The national and international-layouts are very short, even shorten in lap-length than Monaco’s equivalent of 3.337 km. No given two or more races are ever the same anyway outcome-wise, so no need to do anything to the track-layout.

    1. @jerejj This is true. I think the grading issue will probably stop this idea.

  7. If Liberty wants to minimize travel and also is willing to pay circuits to host, I guess that Brands Hatch and Donington Park would be willing to accept a round. It would be great to see those circuits in action. They could the same at Italy by running not just at Monza, but using Mugello and Imola too.

    Personally I would love to see that, honestly watching more than one race at the same circuit seems kinda boring to me; and it would also kill some of what is special about winning a GP

    1. It would be great to see Donington, but it isn’t grade 1 status unfortunately. Same with Brands, and with the latter it’s also too dangerous for F1 cars.

      Now if you could get all the drivers to race in lower formula cars around tracks such as Donington, Brands, Snetterton, Malory Park…. That I would pay to see!! No chance of that though unfortunately :(

  8. I don’t exactly get the point of introducing three races to Silverstone. If the reason why the’re trying to pack as many races as they can into few months is to get the highest possible revenue and save the teams, then racing three times at Silverstone is pointless. They want to make fans happy? I certainly won’t be happy for a totally distorted, artificial season where everything is hurried and Liberty is trying to offer us some strange product disguised as an F1 season. This is not going to a normal season, just get over it, every forced solution and experiments with numbers of triple headers feels unnatural and unnecessary.

    1. Yeah this matches my line of thinking. Given that the UK just extended their lockdown for another 3 weeks, I think a lot of people are underestimating how long it will take to get back to normal. I get that they want to go racing, but it has to be done right. This feels artificial and to me looks like liberty had no idea what to do. They need to chill and stop planning desperate season starts because we hear about it and it makes them look more incompetent every time the new plan comes out.

      1. Note that it’s not just the decision to extend the lockdown the problem, I check worldometers coronavirus daily and if there’s an european country that really HAD to extend the lockdown it’s the UK, their death toll and infection ratio is pretty bad, even italy is doing better lately, as in getting better than it was doing. France is another that is doing badly EU wise.

    2. José Lopes da Silva
      16th April 2020, 22:34

      No one today says that 1982 was not a proper F1 season.
      Start the engines.

    3. @pironitheprovocateur Why do you say racing three times at Silverstone is pointless in terms of revenue? Dieter’s reported that the TV contracts require a minimum of 15 races or else Liberty has to start reimbursing the broadcasters. Ticket sales go to the promoters, not Liberty, and it doesn’t even seem as if many (if any) races will be able to have fans anyway. Makes sense to me that the cheapest option for Liberty to is write off of the race hosting fees this year, hire a few tracks out for a week or two, and cram as many races in as possible.

    4. @pironitheprovocateur If the aim is to get races done to count towards the 15 Liberty needs to get its TV money, then there’s a lot of point in doing multiple races in places where races can happen, be that Silverstone, Red Bull Ring or somewhere else.

  9. Tommy Scragend
    16th April 2020, 22:13

    BBC is reporting Austria, then two races at Silverstone (not three).

    Two would be just about tolerable, three would be too many IMO.

    1. I could cope with two races at Silverstone over successive weekends but I think three would be madness.

      I can actually see this happening with Austria first. What happens after though?

  10. Ain’t the UK in a pretty much equal state of trouble with covid-19 just like Spain, France or Italy? I don’t see Silverstone even holding a single race much less three.

    If it happens, I would rather see other tracks, if Liberty has so much money they can help out and upgrade other tracks to F1 status.

    1. Even worse: yes, the uk were 2 weeks behind italy in the curve, but now italy seems to be going towards a solution, just like spain, can’t say the same for france and uk, they’re getting worse or as bad as the previous days.

  11. So, those will be the European, British and English Grands Prix…right?

    1. No, after Brexit it will be the English, British and British Isles GPs. Meanwhile they ship in boat loads of Europeans to do the work for them, lol.

      1. You do realise that the UK will still be in Europe even after Brexit of course don’t you. Europe being the continent not the European Union (of nation states).

        1. @ahxshades @guybrushthreepwood and bringing back to the memories that in 2016 the first Azerbaijan’s Grand Prix has been called European Grand Prix anyways :)

    2. @gpfacts European and British Grands Prixs have happened.

      Though I’ve suddenly had a thought – is a “closed-doors” race in Birmingham race now possible, or would there be too much risk of eggs being thrown on the cars?

  12. Why hasn’t Liberrty Media doubled down on sharing Formula 1 heritage, and then concentrated on improving the next season and the new formula to come. Why not show classic races with real time telepresent commentary by living participants? Sky did a few bits last year that worked really well with this format. I enjoyed watching Monaco 96 on youtube the other week, but they could do so much more with their red hot Netflix iron smouldering in their hands. Global sporting events like F1 races are amazing, but are not essential services by any stretch of the imagination. It’s time for Liberty to show how innovative it really is.

  13. If I was given the chance I would happily watch an F1 race at Silverstone every week, especially if the alternative was no F1 races.
    Austria !? I know RB own the track and are likely to be very helpful but it still means 10 full teams travelling across borders to and from for only 1 race worth of TV revenue, which is why I still think Silverstone on repeat (until things improve) is the only sensible option, local teams should help the 3 teams from Europe with facilities so the cars could be transported ready to race (like the old days) and remain in the “pits” (Box) with a small team of key personnel billeted nearby until such time as travel for the whole circus becomes safe and acceptable.

  14. I feel this is just a desperate attempt to steady F1 shares and any nervous sponsors. F1 won’t race this year. The sooner they accept that and move onto 2021 the better. I want to see racing as much as everyone else, but being realistic, there’s no way non essential travel to multiple countries will be available until a vaccine is found. The virus may slow but the only reason it’s slowing is because everyone is stuck inside, open the doors and there will be a second wave which will result in yet another lockdown period. The paddock is a small, confined space where one single outbreak could easily spread. Behind closed doors still means hundreds/thousands of team personal, track workers etc. I just can’t see how any of that will be viable in the coming months when countries were originally locking down at between 20-50 deaths per day. The Uk had 861 today… it will be 6-12 weeks before we drop back down under 100 per day, and then what? We’re going to allow events with all those people, no chance.

    1. They want to run a season because without the TV revenue, sponsors pulling out of contracts because of force majeure and lack of promoters fees (although if behind closed doors I assume they won’t get this) at least a handful of teams are at risk of going under. That won’t leave much of a season for next year – Merc, Ferrari, Red Bull, Renault (probably), AlphaTauri and Racing Point. It isn’t hyperbole coming from Zak – the situation is serious. This isn’t about F1s share price – it means nothing day to day, I’d stop reading formula money if that’s where it’s coming from, it’s about making sure there is a viable championship in the future. Once those teams are gone, they are gone – in this climate there aren’t going to be many people clambering to buy them. Remember, McLaren is an extremely well funded team and it’s furloughed most of its staff.

      There is nothing in the UK lockdown rules that would prevent Silverstone from happening behind closed doors. You are allowed to travel for work if it isn’t possible to work from home. The race teams are not that large, and beyond needing production shifts back in the factory most of the rest of the team can work from home. It’s perfectly reasonable to come up with measures to move each team en-masse on own/chartered transport and barely interacting with the local population – combine that with private testing of all staff before departure and it would be reasonably safe. As to crossing borders, F1 can’t predict what the situation will be, but it’s planning best it can. Unfortunately, with nothing else to talk about, the media is hanging off every word coming from inside the sport.

      1. So what happens if there is an accident and a driver or pitlane crew needs serious medical help.

        No country is going to allow any race go on.

    2. Indeed, that’s way too many deaths compared to what it used to be, they can’t hold silverstone, if they want to be reasonable ofc.

  15. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
    17th April 2020, 3:44

    F1 will not race this year- end of.

  16. UK is only being talked about as a host for multiple races because how close 7 of the teams are to the track, so only 3 teams would have to travel. Otherwise yeah, I don’t think they would seriously consider holding races there at all.

    1. ^ That was meant to be a reply to someone else’s post further up, oh well.

  17. An earlier date for the Austrian GP isn’t really possible, the government has banned any and all major events until the end of June, despite the restrictions being gradually lifted. First weekend of July is the earliest a race can be held there, even if it’s behind closed doors and with skeleton crews from the teams

  18. Erkki Hakopuro
    19th April 2020, 9:41

    When all is anyway for ex. in Siverstone, why not race in clockwise and then anticlockwise?
    Totally new race!!!

    1. Teams/drivers would oppose it for safety reasons…

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