FIA takes action to protect motorsport during coronavirus pandemic

The FIA and World Motor Sport Council have agreed to alterations in regulations so that it can react more quickly to the coronavirus pandemic.

Following an e-vote the WMSC agreed changes to the regulations for both Formula 1 and the World Rally Championship.

A statement from the FIA read: “The FIA has been confronted for several weeks with numerous requests for the postponement and/or cancellation of competitions registered on the FIA International Sporting Calendar, including several competitions counting towards the FIA Championships and Cups. 

“In order to enable the FIA to deal with these requests without delay in accordance with the FIA Statutes, the World Motor Sport Council has granted a delegation of authority to the President of the FIA, pursuant to Articles 16.4 and 16.10 of the FIA Statutes*, to take any decisions in connection with the organisation of international competitions for the 2020 season, which may be required as a matter of urgency. 

“Any decision made by the President of the FIA shall be taken after consultation with the Deputy President for Sport, the Secretary General for Sport and the President of the relevant Sporting Commission, if applicable. 

“In addition to these changes relating to the wider motor sport landscape, the World Council has also approved a number of changes to regulations for specific championships. 

FIA Formula One World Championship: 

“Changes for the 2020 Sporting Regulations have been approved in order to give flexibility to the FIA and Formula 1 to react to the crisis and organise a race calendar that best safeguards the commercial value of the Championship and contains costs as much as possible. This will be achieved by the following methods: 

  • The addition of Article 1.3, in order to be able to change certain articles with 60% support amongst the teams, so as to increase flexibility during this difficult period. In any case a subsequent approval by the World Motor Sport Council will be required.
  • The permission for the FIA and Formula 1 to change the calendar without a vote (deletion of Article 5.5) 
  • Changes to testing (Article 10.5) 
  • Addition of Power Unit Manufacturers shutdown (Article 21.10 and 21.11)
  • Changes to permissible Power Unit elements if the number of races reduces (Article 23.3) 
  • The banning of aerodynamic development for the 2022 Regulations during 2020 (starting on Saturday 28 March).  

“The World Council approved the previously-announced delay of the 2021 Technical Regulations to 2022 for cost-saving measures. Further measures will be introduced for 2021 following discussions with the teams. These will include the homologation of the Survival Cell (from 2020) and certain other components.

“In addition, dual axis steering systems (DAS) will not be permitted in the 2021 regulations as defined in Article 10.4.2.

“These technical changes have already received the required unanimous approval of the participating competitors, as they represent fundamental changes introduced after 18 months prior to the start of the year of the relevant Championship. 

FIA World Rally Championship: 

“The FIA launched an invitation to tender on 19 December 2019 to select a single hybrid supplier in the 2022‐2024 World Rally Championship for the new Rally1 class vehicles. The World Council approved the appointment of Compact Dynamics as the single supplier, as well as provisions for the Rally1 engine technical regulations to retain the same base engine as current but with measures to reduce costs and development.

“*Articles 16.4 and 16.10 of the FIA Statutes: 

“16.4 To make the decisions required by the FIA management in the sporting domains which are not reserved for the General Assembly or Senate. 

“16.10 To approve the International Sporting Calendar.”

Super Formula postpones Autopolis race

Super Formula has once again delayed the start of the 2020 season after postponing its race at Autopolis due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The round at Autopolis was due to be held on 15-17 May, but no new date has been given.

The championship had already postponed its opening round at Suzuka on 4-5 April and the race at Fuji on 18-19 April was also pushed back. It had also cancelled a pre-season test at Suzuka 5 April, but went ahead with testing in Fuji last week.

As the calendar was designed to not clash with the Tokyo Olympics the first round is not due to take place until 19-21 June at Sugo, with the second at Motegi on 28-30 August.

Although the three postponed rounds have not been given new dates, but these may now be held in the summer following the postponement of the Olympics by one year.

Kawasaki announces Suzuka 8 Hours line-up

The Kawasaki Racing Team will field Jonathan Rea, Alex Lowes and Xavi Forés for the 2020 Suzuka 8 Hours.

Five-time Superbike World Champion Rea has won the Suzuka 8 Hours on two occasions, in 2012 for Honda and he narrowly won the race for Kawasaki last year, despite crashing with nine minutes to go.

Lowes has won the race on three consecutive occasions for Yamaha between 2016 and 2018. Last year he finished as runner-up.

“Fantastic event. Looking forward to joining JR and Xavi for the 2020 Suzuka 8 hours such a special race! Can’t wait to catch up with all the Japanese fans in July!” said Lowes.

Forés competed in the race last year on a Honda and finished in seventh place. This season the Spaniard has replaced Toprak Razgatlıoğlu at the Puccetti Kawasaki team in WSBK.

“Very happy to announce I will join this legendary race with two very strong riders in Alex Lowes and Jonathan Rea,” said Forés.

“Thank you to Kawasaki and Peccetti Racing for bringing me this opportunity. See you all there!”

The Suzuka 8 Hours is currently scheduled to take place on 16-19 July.

Mercedes F1 Team helps with development of new breathing aid

Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains, part of Mercedes’ Formula 1 team, has helped with the development of a breathing aid that is being used by the NHS to treat coronavirus patients.

The breathing aid, called Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), is being used to help keep COVID-19 patients out of intensive care. It has already been used by hospitals in China and Italy.

Mercedes-AMG HPP worked with mechanical engineers at UCL and clinicians at UCLH to find a way to rapidly produce the device.

Within 100 hours from the initial meeting, on 18 March, the first device was produced.

100 of the devices will now be trialled by UCLH before being rolled out to hospitals nationwide.

It has already been approved for use by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

“Reports from Italy indicate that approximately 50% of patients given CPAP have avoided the need for invasive mechanical ventilation. However, such devices are in short supply in UK hospitals.”

F1’s seven UK based teams are also collaborating on ‘Project Pitlane’ to produce ventilators for the NHS. This forms part of a consortium called VentilatorChallengeUK which has received an order of 10,000 ventilators from the UK government.

Andy Cowell, Managing Director of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains, said: “The Formula One community has shown an impressive response to the call for support, coming together in the ‘Project Pitlane’ collective to support the national need at this time across a number of different projects.

“We have been proud to put our resources at the service of UCL to deliver the CPAP project to the highest standards and in the fastest possible timeframe.”

Professor Tim Baker of UCL Mechanical Engineering added: “Given the urgent need, we are thankful that we were able to reduce a process that could take years down to a matter of days.

“From being given the brief, we worked all hours of the day, disassembling and analysing an off-patent device. Using computer simulations, we improved the device further to create a state-of-the-art version suited to mass production.

“We were privileged to be able to call on the capability of Formula One – a collaboration made possible by the close links between UCL Mechanical Engineering and HPP.”

UCLH Chief Executive Marcel Levi concluded: “This is a real team effort and I am proud of colleagues at UCLH and our partners at UCL and HPP for their immense work to produce this device in such a short time. We hope this effort can be rolled out to hospitals across the UK to benefit all patients.

“Everyone involved in this project should know that their efforts will have a truly significant impact on patient care.”

Full Supercars season to go ahead “regardless of end date”

The full season of the Australian Supercars Championship will go ahead “regardless of end date”.

Only one round has been held this season, in Adelaide, and the second round of the season at Albert Park was cancelled along with the Formula 1 race.

Supercars Championship CEO Sean Seamer has stated that the championship may continue into next season if necessary not order to ensure completion.

“We’ll continue to discuss it with the teams, but right now if we have to go deep into summer or even early into next year then we are prepared to do that at this point in time,” Seamer told the Herald Sun.

“Things are changing very frequently. But we have got a plan, the teams are all aligned.

“Now it’s just a matter of working through different scenarios and seeing how soon we can get back out there.”

Although a new calendar has not been arranged, despite the postponement of a number of rounds, Seamer hasn’t ruled out making the races TV-only events.

“We are working through discussions with all of our partners at the tracks and discussing options with them, but again a lot of this could potentially come down to which states have which borders open at which time.

“Really that’s the critical piece of information that we are waiting on.”

In the meantime, Supercars will be running races with all drivers competing on iRacing.