With the first eight races canceled or postponed and the summer break moved up to the beginning of the year, Formula 1 teams are facing uncertain times when the “summer break” period ends at the end of April.
Teams are beginning to look for ways to cut costs and despite the summer break being moved forward and the 2021 regulation changes being pushed back a year, the lack of racing is seriously impacting the revenue streams prompting discussions about other cost-cutting measures.
In the case of McLaren, an across-the-board salary cut and furlough process has already begun with Zak Brown, Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz all taking pay cuts.
“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.”
For Alfa Romeo’s Fred Vassuer, keeping the teams closed even after the mandatory shutdown at the end of April is a feasible idea.
“We get the possibility to extend the shutdown,” he told Autosport. “One of the decisions to reduce drastically the costs, could be to extend the shutdown.”
“Day by day is roughly the same as we are in the summer shutdown, because we are not allowed to work, except communication and some functions for myself and other senior staff,” he said.
“But all the technical staff are not able to work for the next three weeks, so that means until the middle of April.
“I hope that in the middle of April we will have a better view on the situation for the rest of the year and that then we will be able to take decisions.”
The teams, the FIA and Formula 1 have all been working together closely on the next steps for the F1 season and with the Olympics canceled and all major sporting events on hold, it remains to be seen as to if the sport can eventually travel around the world to far flung races even if the lockdown situation loosens in the UK.
As it is, F1 must complete 8 races on three continents in order to claim 2020 as an official championship season but broadcast packages may require more than 8 races (15) in order to satisfy contractual obligations that would see broadcasters pay in full.
There’s nothing easy about this and cutting costs is a large part of the “next steps” for F1 and the teams but ultimately so is generating revenue and it remains to be seen just how that will be possible and at what level in 2020.