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  • Fast Friday: F1 targets July start, NASCAR set to return

    Need your motorsport news fix? Welcome to Fast Friday!

    This is where Racing Edge discusses all of the main storylines and talking points from the past week in motorsport.

    Keep up-to-date with this week’s main motorsport news below:

    Major motorsport news: Could F1 start in July?

    Motorsport news F1

    The big motorsport news of the week – are we getting closer to the start of the new Formula 1 season?

    F1 bosses are targeting a July start to the delayed 2020 campaign after the French Grand Prix was cancelled this week.

    The F1 schedule has been heavily impacted by the global Coronavirus pandemic, with the opening 10 races of the new season either postponed or cancelled. F1’s factory shutdown period has also been doubled to 63 days.

    F1 boss Chase Carey remains confident a modified 15-18 race season could begin this summer, potentially in Austria at the start of July. Austria has recently loosened its lockdown restrictions, although any race would likely take place behind closed doors.

    The British Grand Prix would also be without spectators should the event happen. Organizers confirmed to ticket holders this week that any race held in 2020 would go ahead without the presence of fans.

    In other F1 news, the Hungarian Grand Prix - originally scheduled for August 2 - is likely to be postponed due to government restrictions. While nothing has been officially announced yet, the Hungarian government recently stated events with more than 500 people in attendance cannot be held until August 15 at the earliest.  

    Positive steps as production starts again

    Porsche Factory

    Some positive motorsport news! Several manufacturers released statements this week indicating they are planning on reopening production lines following the COVID-19 outbreak.

    The global pandemic saw all major marques halt production mid-March and redistribute efforts to aid frontline workers in fighting the virus. Factories were temporarily closed to protect staff, while supply lines were also heavily disrupted by the outbreak.

    Many factories underwent complete sanitation during closure. Some were used to make ventilation equipment for hospitals and personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline staff.

    With an intense focus on rigorous health and safety checks, several marques are now beginning to phase the reopening of production lines.

    Production at Audi’s main factory at Ingolstadt has started on a single assembly line, while Alfa Romeo is also phasing the reopening of its factories. Lamborghini and Porsche will begin phasing factory restarts from May 4. Ford General Motors is also readying to reboot manufacturing processes.

    Many important measures have been implemented to ensure the safety of employees across the board. These range from hand sanitisation stations being provided, as well as protective plastic sheeting on assembly lines. Some are installing body temperature monitoring cameras at plant entrances. 

    Factories are advising staff to wear facemasks, PPE and continue to observe physical distancing measures.

    In other motorsport news from the factories, both Porsche and Audi have extended warranties on new vehicles bought from the start of March.  

    NASCAR to return on May 17

    NASCAR
    Photo credit: NASCAR

    Big motorsport news from the United States as NASCAR is heading back to the racetrack on May 17 following a two-month hiatus.

    Organizers announced a packed two-week schedule featuring seven races in 11 days across all three NASCAR series (Cup, Xfinity and Trucks) and two circuits. Events will be held without fans in attendance.

    Drivers will return to action on May 17 for a 400-mile Cup series event at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina. Another Cup race will be held three days’ later on May 20, also at Darlington, with an Xfinity Series race in between (May 19). 

    The schedule then moves to the jewel-in-the-crown Coca-Cola 600 Miles at Charlotte Speedway on May 24. This marks 60 consecutive years that NASCAR’s longest race will take place on Memorial Day Weekend.

    Charlotte will then play host to an Xfinity Series race (May 25), Trucks race (May 26) and a further Cup Series race (May 27).

    Schedules and procedures at the events will also be modified to ensure the health and safety of competitors and workers. NASCAR has collaborated extensively with public health officials, medical experts and local/state/federal officials to create its plan. Organizers are tailoring all races to follow guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    No practice sessions will be held for any of the events, with only the Coca-Cola 600 to feature qualifying.

    More motorsport news: Audi to quit DTM after 2020

    Motorsport news Audi

    Audi announced this week it will quit the DTM championship after the 2020 season, throwing the series into further doubt.

    The Volkswagen-owned marque is re-aligning its motorsport program to focus on sustainability. Audi will concentrate its efforts on electric racing with Formula E, as well as its own customer racing projects. The German manufacturer also cited the negative economic effect of the Coronavirus pandemic as reasons behind its decision.

    Audi follows both Mercedes and Aston Martin in vacating the DTM series after long-term involvements. Mercedes withdrew after the 2018 season while Aston Martin pulled out before the start of this year’s campaign. Audi’s removal will leave BMW as the sole manufacturer on the DTM grid.

    Gerhard Berger, chairman of the DTM’s umbrella organisation ITR, said he deeply regrets Audi’s decision. Berger hoped for a more “united approach” in response to the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.  

    Senna among McLaren supercar recalls

    McLaren Senna

    McLaren is recalling over 2,700 supercars in its range, including its latest $1 million Senna offering, due to a fire risk.

    The U.S. National Highway Traffic Administration this week posted a notice on its website detailing the recalls. Most of the vehicles set for recall include McLaren’s 720S, GT and 570GT models as well as the 789-bhp Senna.

    The issue relates to a foam pad mounted below the fuel tank, initially installed to dampen noise. However, the foam pad on affected models is at risk of retaining moisture, which could cause corrosion and potential fuel leaks down the line.  

    Models without the foam pad installed will not be recalled. To check your model, enter your car's VIN here.

    The Senna, named after the late Formula 1 legend Ayrton Senna, is McLaren’s most powerful road-legal supercar launched to date.

    That’s your main motorsport news this week!

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