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  • Fast Friday: Vettel leaves Ferrari, F1 silly season starts early!

    Need your motorsport news fix? Welcome to Fast Friday!

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

    Keep up to date with the main motorsport news below.

    Vettel to leave Ferrari after 2020 season

    Sebastian Vettel news

    The big motorsport news of the week! Shockwaves were sent through the F1 paddock as Ferrari confirmed Sebastian Vettel will leave the team at the end of the 2020 season.

    The news is surprising as Vettel and Ferrari were still negotiating a potential contract extension last month. The German leaves after six years with the Scuderia team. He amassed 14 grand prix wins in the famous red car.

    After joining Ferrari, four-time world champion Vettel said he wanted to emulate childhood hero Michael Schumacher and win an F1 world title with the Italian giants. 

    Ferrari’s Managing Director Mattia Binotto said: “This is a decision taken jointly by ourselves and Sebastian, one which both parties feel is for the best. There was no specific reason that led to this decision, apart from the common and amicable belief that the time had come to go our separate ways in order to reach our respective objectives.”

    Vettel said: “In order to get the best possible results in this sport, it’s vital for all parties to work in perfect harmony. The team and I have realised that there is no longer a common desire to stay together beyond the end of this season. Financial matters have played no part in this joint decision.”

    Vettel will now take time to reflect on his future. Charles Leclerc, who recently signed a new long-term deal with Ferrari, led the Twitter tributes.

    Vettel news sparks F1 merry-go-round

    Carlos Sainz

    The Vettel news means one thing – F1’s silly season is starting early!

    Ferrari have since confirmed McLaren driver Carlos Sainz will take Vettel’s empty seat for the 2021 and 2022 seasons. Sainz has plenty of F1 experience, having raced in over 100 grands prix across five seasons.

    Mattia Binotto said: “We’ve embarked on a new cycle with the aim of getting back to the top in Formula 1. It will be a long journey, not without its difficulties, especially given the current financial and regulatory situation, which is undergoing a sudden change and will require this challenge to be tackled in a different way to the recent past.”

    He added: “We believe that a driver pairing with the talent and personality of Charles [Leclerc]and Carlos [Sainz], the youngest in the past fifty years of the Scuderia, will be the best possible combination to help us reach the goals we have set ourselves.”

    The news means Daniel Ricciardo will make the switch from Renault to McLaren after the end of the 2020 season. Australian Ricciardo almost signed for McLaren in 2018, but opted for the French outfit instead. He will partner Lando Norris, who will be staying for his third season at McLaren.

    Zak Brown, CEO at McLaren, said: "Signing Daniel is another step forward in our long-term plan and will bring an exciting new dimension to the team, alongside Lando. This is good news for our team, partners and of course our fans.”

    Ferrari unveils new COVID-19 ventilator

    Ferrari ventilator COVID-19

    More major news from Ferrari this week. Scuderia Ferrari unveiled a new pulmonary ventilator that was conceived, designed, and built in just five weeks to help fight the current Coronavirus crisis.

    Italy has been one of the worst-hit countries by the COVID-19 outbreak, especially the Modena region where Ferrari is based. The manufacturer has donated millions of Euros to the cause, as well as 150 ventilators. It also used its Maranello-based factory to produce respirator valves and fittings for protective masks.

    Ferrari teamed up with the Genoa-based Italian Institute of Technology to produce the new pulmonary ventilator device. It is named the FI5. ‘F’ for Ferrari, ‘I’ for Italian Institute of Technology and ‘5’ for its five-week build time.

    While Ferrari won’t be mass-producing the FI5 ventilator, the project is “open source”. Technical drawings of the FI5, hardware, software and component lists will be made available so anyone can produce it.

    Will the British Grand Prix go ahead?

    British Grand Prix news

    Another major talking point from Formula 1 this week concerns the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

    The 2020 F1 season is on hold due to the Coronavirus pandemic. F1 organizers are hoping for a summer start to the new season - potentially beginning with a double-header event in Austria on July 5 and July 12.

    Silverstone's managing director, Stuart Pringle, says the track and F1 have now agreed terms for two races without fans at the circuit this season. However, it is still pending approval from the UK Government. The British Grand Prix is set to take place on July 19. Races would take place on back-to-back weekends, like Austria.

    The UK Government is hoping to lift restrictions in the coming weeks, with a return for live sport behind closed doors. However, introducing stricter quarantine measures for those flying into the UK is causing confusion.

    Effectively, sports teams and athletes will be exempt from the new restrictions once competition resumes. But they will have to undergo stringent testing and, if testing positive, undergo a 14-day self-isolating quarantine.   

    Seven of the 10 F1 teams are based in Britain, but will be travelling back into the UK if Austria goes ahead. F1 bosses are currently in talks with the UK government and are ensuring staff will be rigorously tested.

    Hamilton considered taking break from F1

    Lewis Hamilton

    In more F1 news, six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton insists he is making the most of the sport’s current lockdown.

    Speaking exclusively to Mercedes’ YouTube channel, Hamilton talks about what he has been doing to keep busy.

    The Briton has been splitting his time between training, relaxing, learning French and playing video games. Hamilton says the return of racing without fans will be a worse experience than testing.

    He also said there have been points over the last five years where he was considering taking a year’s sabbatical, to rest the body and mind. However, Hamilton says he has been using his downtime to have a positive effect on his long-term intentions in the sport. 

    Meanwhile, Daniel Ricciardo says he is expecting “chaos” once the F1 season starts. Ricciardo has been self-isolating in Australia and has not driven his Renault car since the end of testing in February.

    Many drivers are in a similar situation and have been trying to fill the void by SimRacing. However, Ricciardo believes a combination of rustiness, eagerness and high emotions could cause several incidents on track.

    Le Mans 24 Hours suffers withdrawals

    In other motorsport news, two big teams have withdrawn from this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours in September.

    Porsche says its IMSA GTLM cars will not appear in the 2020 edition of the race, which normally takes place in June. The factory team will instead focus on the remainder of the current IMSA season.

    Now, Corvette Racing have also pulled their new mid-engine C8.R’s from the lineup. Corvette Racing announced its decision on Twitter.

    Both teams cited the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis as reasons for their withdrawals.

    Porsche to unveil two new 911 models

    Stuttgart sports car manufacturers Porsche will reveal two new models of its famous 911 series next week.

    The marque will exclusively unveil the two new models on May 18 to a global audience via its own web TV channel.

    Fans can log on to the 9:11-Magazin web channel via Porsche’s website.

    Could Ferrari enter the IndyCar Series?

    Ferrari news

    That is a possibility, according to Scuderia Team Principal Mattia Binotto.

    Ferrari is currently exploring options in light of proposed budget cap reductions in F1. Recently, the cap was lowered from $175 million to $145 million due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some teams want it lowered closer to $100 million.

    Binotta says lowering the cap will lead to some Ferrari staff being made redundant. But entering another series would ensure employees kept jobs. Ferrari is also considering endurance racing as an option.

    Speaking to Sky Sports Italia, Binotta said: “Ferrari feels a lot of social responsibility towards its employees and we want to be sure that for each of them there will be a workspace in the future."

    He added: “For this reason we have started to evaluate alternative programs and I confirm that we are looking at IndyCar, which is currently a very different category from ours. At Ferrari, we were structuring ourselves based on the budget approval last year ($175m), and the further reduction represents an important challenge that will inevitably lead to review staff, structure and organization.”

    St. Petersburg to host 2020 IndyCar finale

    IndyCar’s 2020 champion will be crowned at St Petersburg as organizers confirmed the event will close the championship’s season on October 25th.

    Traditionally, St Petersburg kicks off the IndyCar season in March, but this will be the first time it acts as the season finale.

    “The streets of St. Petersburg will make for a fitting and action-packed finale in a venue and city that our entire IndyCar community holds dear,” Penske Entertainment Corp. President and CEO Mark Miles said.

    Meanwhile, NASCAR returns this weekend at Darlington Raceway.

    Maserati's Stirling Moss-inspired MC20

    Motorsport news Maserati

    Maserati this week revealed a unique prototype of its new super sportscar, the MC20, inspired by the late Sir Stirling Moss.

    British racing legend Moss died last month at the age of 90. The Modena-based marque says the new prototype’s design is inspired by the Maserati Eldorado, the iconic single-seater driven on its debut at Monza in 1958 by Moss himself. It also features Moss’ “signature” on the rear.

    Moss has a rich history with the Italian brand, having driven a Maserati 250F throughout the 1956 season and into 1957. He also piloted a Tipo 60 Birdcage, Tipo 61 and 300 S.

    The MC20 represents an important stage for the Modena-based marque. It is the first car to feature an engine 100% designed, developed and built by Maserati itself. 

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