F1 chairman evokes ‘remote’ possibility of no races in 2020

Formula One group chairman Chase Carey. (Reuters)
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Updated 09 May 2020

F1 chairman evokes ‘remote’ possibility of no races in 2020

  • To maximize the European swing, F1 is envisaging holding races at tracks not currently on the calendar

PARIS: Discussions to host Formula One races in July are at an advanced stage, although F1 chairman Chase Carey cautions that “the remote possibility of no racing in 2020” remains.
The first 10 races of the season have been postponed or canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic, leading to a huge loss of revenue. The iconic Monaco Grand Prix was scrapped for the first time in 66 years.
Figures released by F1 owner Liberty Media showed first quarter revenue of $39 million compared to $246 million for the same period last year. F1 has a debt of $2.9 billion, which has been offset by producing extra liquidity through internal transactions.
The financial hit is magnified because the season-opening Australian Grand Prix and the Bahrain GP were not held in March — meaning no commerce from tickets or revenue from broadcasting rights.
“We’re actively engaged with lenders of a revolving credit facility,” Carey said during a conference call Thursday with investors. “They’ve been very supportive as we work together to identify potential changes ... to enable us to navigate through the potential scenarios, including the remote possibility of no racing in 2020.”
Carey said F1 has furloughed over 50 percent of its workforce, while teams are working together to further reduce F1’s budget cap. The cap for teams was already slashed to $175 million for 2021.
“We now expect to move forward with a significantly lower cap,” for next year, Carey said.
Several reports put that figure at $145 million but teams have yet to agree — with McLaren pushing for a far lower figure but Ferrari worried that dropping to $145 million will heavily impact its workforce.
This year’s F1 car models will also be kept for 2021, thereby saving on development costs.
To gain lost racing time, F1 has already extended its factory shutdown period from 35 to 63 days, effectively allowing the season to run continuously as from July.
If it starts.
“Our goal is to launch our season on the weekend of July fourth and fifth in Austria and it is likely that we race the weekend of July 11th and 12th in Austria as well,” Carey said. “We’re in the advance stages of putting together a schedule of additional European races through early September.”
To maximize the European swing, F1 is envisaging holding races at tracks not currently on the calendar. Among those reportedly being considered are Hockenheim in Germany — where the soccer season is resuming — the Imola track in Italy and Portugal’s circuit in Portimao.
“We’re in discussion with all of our promoters, as well as some tracks that are currently not on our 2020 calendar, to ensure we explore all options,” Carey said. “We have two primary challenges: Identifying locations where we can hold the race, and determining how we transport all necessary parties and their equipment to that location.”
The British GP could possibly follow Austria on July 19, with back-to-back races at Silverstone.
The season could then continue later in the summer in Hungary, where the Hungaroring circuit is nestled in the countryside outside Budapest; and Belgium, whose Spa-Francorchamps track is within the Ardennes forest.

Atletico catching all the breaks in Champions League

Updated 12 August 2020

Atletico catching all the breaks in Champions League

  • A victory against Leipzig will put Atletico back in the semifinals for the first time since 2017

LISBON: So far so good for Atletico Madrid in the quest for their first Champions League title.

Diego Simeone’s team have caught all the breaks going into the decisive final-eight tournament in Lisbon.

Old foes Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo are gone. They drew Leipzig instead of a more traditional powerhouse for the quarterfinals. And their rival lost its top player after Timo Werner left for Chelsea. Even when things went wrong and the squad was hit by COVID-19, Atletico avoided the worst as only two players were infected and they could still make the trip to Portugal.

Things have been looking good for Simeone and his players.

A victory against Leipzig on Thursday will put Atletico back in the semifinals for the first time since it was eliminated by Ronaldo’s Madrid in the last four in 2017. Ronaldo and Madrid had defeated Atletico in the final in 2014 and 2016, and also ended the rival’s run in the quarterfinals in 2015.

Ronaldo again was Atletico’s nemesis last season after joining Juventus. Atletico lost to the Italian team in the round of 16 after Ronaldo scored a hat trick in the decisive second leg in Turin.

But this time Ronaldo and Juventus were eliminated by Lyon in the last 16, the same stage in which Madrid were knocked out of the tournament by Manchester City. Only two past champions are still left in the competition — Barcelona and Bayern Munich — and they play against each other in the opposite side of the draw, meaning Atletico could only meet one of them in the final.

Leipzig are a relative newcomer to the Champions League, having reached the group stage only twice. This is the first time they made it to the knockout round. They eliminated Tottenham in the round of 16, but now they won't count on top scorer Werner, who did not extend his contract by a few weeks to finish the season with the German club before moving to Chelsea.

Atletico stunned defending European champion Liverpool in the last 16, advancing after a 3-2 win in England.

“The game against Liverpool will go down in history and was one of the best we’ve had in a long time,” Atletico striker Diego Costa said. “It gave fans high expectations and we will give our best to try to meet those expectations. Hopefully we will play well and luck will stay on our side.”

Costa said Atletico will not take Leipzig lightly despite  the rival’s lack of experience in international competitions.

“They are very strong on the ball and know what they are about,” he said. “They have made it to the quarterfinals and have no pressure.”

There was a scare within Atletico this week when it announced two positive test results for COVID-19 among the group that was traveling to Lisbon. There were concerns that an outbreak within the club could have affected the team’s participation in the tournament in Portugal, but new tests showed that only Ángel Correa and Sime Vrsaljko were infected and the squad could travel to Lisbon.

Vrsaljko was not even going to play because he is nursing an injury, while Correa isn't among Atletico’s top stars even though he led the team in assists this season.

After coming agonizingly close recently, Atletico hope the breaks will keep going their way and that they  will finally get to lift the coveted European trophy.