McLaren Formula 1 boss Andreas Seidl says delaying new technical rules to 2022 is crucial to protect teams’ finances as the championship is under severe pressure amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The first eight rounds of the 2020 season have either been cancelled or postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak that has forced many countries into lockdown and triggered a hiatus of all major sporting events.
Part of F1’s response to the problem has been to delay its all-new car regulations one year, with teams having to use their 2020 chassis and other components next season instead.
This has been done to protect the teams, which face a significant drop in revenue through prize money and sponsorship because the number of races this year will be much lower than planned.
Seidl said: “From the outset, we have been a leading supporter of the new sporting and technical regulations for 2021.
“They present the opportunity to deliver an exciting new era for Formula 1.
“Nevertheless, there is no escaping the severity of the pressures faced by the sport right now.
“In the same way that decision to introduce the new regulations was aimed at improving the long-term health of Formula 1, the decision to postpone them has been made in the same vein.
“We support the postponement and have played an active part in the conversation around doing so.
“We recognise that it is crucial to protect the financial health of all the teams while ensuring a level playing field when we do go racing.”
As reported by The Race last weekend, the carry-over of chassis will not derail McLaren’s switch from Renault engines to Mercedes in 2021.
While the details of which components are frozen from 2020 to 2021 have not been finalised, McLaren says it has been given assurances it will be able to adapt its car as required.
F1’s technical regulations already prescribe certain engine geometries and mounting requirements but there will be some compromises required as the MCL35 is tailored to elements of Renault’s engine, such as cooling and gearbox pick-up points.
“This decision does not impact our change to Mercedes power units in 2021,” Seidl said.
“We will be allowed to make the necessary changes to our car to accommodate this.”
McLaren was at the heart of the chain of events that led to the season-opening Australian Grand Prix being cancelled fewer than two hours before the start of practice.
One if its team members tested positive for COVID-19 and the team immediately withdrew as a result. That member of the team, and 14 others who were quarantined, are due to return from Australia this week.
McLaren CEO Zak Brown said the team is fully supportive of all the measures F1 has taken so far in response to an “unprecedented situation” that is “constantly changing”.
He said “we will adapt to overcome the challenges it presents” but in the meantime the “health and wellbeing of everyone involved” is the priority.
“We’ve been totally supportive of these changes and have a proactive role in implementing them,” said Brown.
“Together with the FIA, Formula 1 and the other teams, we’ve been proposing a number of ideas that help to protect the sport we all love while keeping our team, fans and wider F1 community safe.
“We have a huge responsibility not only to our people, but the wider F1 community, and as custodians of the sport it is essential we work together to overcome the challenges we face.”
In addition to F1’s own solutions, McLaren is part of a group of UK teams and manufacturers assessing how it may help the country’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.
The group is evaluating how they can help manufacture respiratory devices to aid the treatment of coronavirus patients.
“All the teams on the grid are high-technology engineers and manufacturers with strong capabilities in producing prototype equipment in a short space of time,” said Brown.
“We, along with other teams and UK-based companies, are in conversation with the British government on how we can support with the manufacture of critical life-saving equipment, such as ventilators.
“We recognise that we have a part to play in addressing this crisis that goes way beyond motorsport.
“We have an obligation to society to help wherever we can.”