F1 extends shutdown period for second time

28 April 2020 - 20:54 By Reuters
Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing during the third day of F1 Test Days in Montmelo, Spain.
Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing during the third day of F1 Test Days in Montmelo, Spain.
Image: Javier Martinez de la Puente/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A factory shutdown for Formula One teams and engine makers has been extended for a second time to a period of 63 consecutive days due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the governing FIA said on Tuesday.

It said in a statement that its World Motor Sport Council had approved an extension running potentially into June, depending on when teams started their closures, from the previous 35 days.

The shutdown, first announced in March when the sport was hoping to race in May, was initially for 21 days but that was extended on April 7.

Teams normally take most of August off, but that period has now been freed up to give Formula One room to reschedule a string of races postponed due to the new coronavirus.

The season is on hold, with the sport targeting an opening double-header in Austria in July, without spectators if the government gives the green light.

A revised calendar has yet to be issued and there are still considerable difficulties to overcome, with much of Europe remaining in lockdown and some countries banning mass events until September.

Five of the seven UK-based teams have furloughed employees under a government scheme where employers can claim for 80% of employees' usual monthly wage costs, up to 2,500 pounds (roughly R58,000) per month.

The FIA said teams could seek permission 50 days into their shutdown period for a maximum of 10 personnel to be allowed to work remotely on projects with long lead times.

The shutdown for power unit manufacturers was extended from 35 to 49 days.