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  • Fast Friday: NASCAR returns, a new Porsche 911 and Vettel’s next move

    Need your motorsport news fix? Welcome to Fast Friday!

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

    Keep up to date with the main motorsport news below.

    Positive news as NASCAR returns

    NASCAR news
    Photo courtesy of NASCAR.

    NASCAR resumed this week following a 10-week lay-off during the COVID-19 pandemic. Kevin Harwick clinched his 50th career win as racing finally returned to Darlington Raceway last weekend.

    Denny Hamlin also scored victory as NASCAR held its first Wednesday race since 1984. The Daytona 500 winner was leading when the race was ended with 20 laps remaining due to rain.

    While the grandstands remained empty, the races at least provided some sense of normality for an industry so heavily affected by the virus. Most major series and championships rely on events as a primary source of funding. However, the return of NASCAR is a positive step for the rest of the motor racing calendar.

    Thanks to some clever camera work, it was quick – if a little uneasy – to adapt to the lack of fans in the stands.

    NASCAR’s strict health guidelines were well adhered, with everyone at the circuit wearing protective face masks. Staff rosters had to be submitted in advance, while team members had their temperatures checked before entering the track.

    The only noticeable stumbling block were when drivers’ spotters were seen sat too close together in the stands. NASCAR organizers moved quickly and effectively to resolve the situation.

    It was an event NASCAR needed to get right. Not just for its own interests, but for the wider interests of motorsport.

    Away from stern guidelines, races were renamed in honour of healthcare and frontline workers.

    The real effects won’t be known until after the incubation period from the first event – anywhere up to 14 days. But the way NASCAR has handled its return could inspire others to follow.

    Will the British Grand Prix go ahead?

    British Grand Prix

    The British Grand Prix faces fresh fears of being cancelled just days after Formula 1 and Silverstone agreed upon a deal to host two races at the iconic track.

    The UK Government is reportedly holding firm on upcoming travel guidelines in response to the global pandemic. All entrants into the UK from June 1 would have to quarantine for 14 days.

    Some elite sports such as F1 are asking for exemptions in order to resume competition. This would be aided by stringent testing of all personnel before and after each event. However, reports suggest the UK Government will opt against granting exemptions.

    Formula 1 organizers believe it would be impossible to host the British Grand Prix if exemptions are not granted.

    F1 is hoping to start the delayed 2020 season with a double header in Austria on July 5 and July 12. The plan was then to move to Silverstone for back-to-back races. The opening 10 races of the season have all been cancelled or postponed.

    The deal between F1 and Silverstone, which was agreed last week, was pending government approval. Hockenheim could potentially step in should the British Grand Prix not go ahead.

    Vettel return to Red Bull “enormously unlikely”

    Motorsport news Vettel

    Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner says Sebastian Vettel returning to the team is very unlikely.

    Vettel announced he would be leaving Ferrari at the end of the 2020 Formula 1 season, but his next move still remains unclear. Former boss Horner believes Vettel and current Red Bull driver Max Verstappen would clash personality-wise.

    Horner told Sky Sports News: “We have a long-term agreement with Max. Alex [Albon] is doing a good job. We’ve got a good dynamic within the team. Experience shows that two alpha males, it doesn’t tend to pan out well.”

    He added: “Sebastian is still a very competitive grand prix driver. I don’t think it would be conducive for our team to have two alphas. We’re happy with the driver line-up we have.”

    IndyCar confirms new 2020 schedule

    Two events have been cancelled as IndyCar released its revised 2020 season schedule this week.

    The series has been heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Indy Richmond 300, due to take place on June 27 at Richmond raceway, has been cancelled.

    Similarly, the Indy Toronto – which is held on the streets of the Canadian city - on July 12 has also made way.  

    The season will open with the Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 6. The Indianapolis 500 takes place on August 23, with the season climax taking place in St Petersburg on October 25.

    Penske Entertainment Corp. President & CEO Mark Miles said: “We appreciate the opportunity to begin our season during these unprecedented times, and I’m confident we’ll put on a great show.”

    DTM announces June test at Nürburgring

    DTM news
    Photo courtesy of DTM.

    German Touring Car championship DTM will host an official three-day test at the Nürburgring in June.

    DTM organizers ITR is preparing an all-new, revised 2020 schedule that will embrace the “new normal.” The official test – scheduled for June 8-11 – kickstarts the 2020 season, replacing the pre-season testing session previously slated for mid-March.

    Strict health protocols will be implemented ahead of the new DTM season, with no fans or media attending races. Team members will undergo rigorous testing for COVID-19 symptoms on a daily basis.

    Marcel Mohaupt, Managing Director of ITR, said: “With a lot of patience and hard work, preparations for the new DTM season are up and running at full speed, kicking off with the official test at the Nürburgring next month. We’re extremely grateful to everybody at the circuit – they have put the infrastructure in place to allow us to test safely with all the relevant distancing rules.”

    Porsche releases new 911 Targa models

    New Porsche 911 Targa

    Porsche completed its line-up for the new generation of 911 models by launching the 911 Targa 4 and Targa 4S.

    Both Targa models feature an innovative, fully-automatic roof system and characteristic wide roll hoop. The roof can be opened and closed in just 19 seconds.

    The new additions are powered by a six-cylinder, three-liter boxer engine with twin turbos. Both come fitted with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission and all-wheel drive Porsche Traction Management. The Targa 4 hits 0-100 km/h in just 4.2 seconds while the Targa 4S reaches the same in 3.6 seconds. Top speed of the Targa 4 is 289 km/h, while the 4S peaks at 304 km/h. Both offer improved power and increased torque from their respective predecessors.

    Ferrari begins to reopen stores in Italy

    Motorsport news Ferrari

    Ferrari is beginning to step up its return to normality. The Italian marque is starting to reopen its stores throughout Italy, with a range of new safety measures in place. These include temperature scanning, extensive sanitizing, free masks, gloves provided and more.

    Both of the manufacturer’s Maranello and Modena museums are welcoming visitors once again. Ferrari has taken precautious steps in line with local emergency healthcare guidelines in Italy. Visitors will have their temperature taken on entry, while free masks will be provided. Mask wearing is compulsory.

    Ferrari is also offering healthcare workers free access to both museums for the rest of 2020. Salut!

    And finally…

    Motorsport news Leclerc

    Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc will still be racing around the streets of Monaco this weekend – despite the famous grand prix not taking place.

    Leclerc is set to feature in the remake of controversial French racing movie ‘C’etait un Rendevous’.

    The streets of Monaco will be closed early Sunday morning to allow filming for the movie. Claude Lelouch, the maker of the 1976 original, is directing the remake.

    The original was nine minutes long featuring a dangerous, high-speed drive through Paris. It was filmed using a camera mounted on the front of Lelouch’s Mercedes. After its release in 2003 it gained cult status. However, no permission was obtained to film from the Parisian authorities.

    The Monaco Grand Prix was cancelled due to the current Coronavirus pandemic. The 2020 Formula 1 season is yet to start.

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