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  • Fast Friday: Hamilton speaks out over protests, COVID-19 cancels more racing

    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 all the main motorsport news below:

    Hamilton calls out ‘white dominated’ F1 for silence over protests

    Lewis Hamilton

    Lewis Hamilton this week called out his F1 peers for “staying silent” over the current global protests amid the death of George Floyd.

    Floyd, an African-American man, died in of police custody in Minneapolis after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for over eight minutes. Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has since been fired and charged with second-degree unintentional murder as well as second-degree manslaughter of the unarmed Floyd.

    The incident sparked widespread civil unrest, particularly in the United States, as well as both peaceful and violent protests throughout the world.

    F1 world champion Hamilton, the only black driver in Formula 1’s history, posted a series of Instagram stories criticising the absence of public uproar to the news from the world’s “biggest stars.” He also branded F1 as a “white dominated sport” and said he feels like he “stands alone” in raising the issue.

    Hamilton has frequently condemned the sport’s lack of diversity. He later stated he was “completely overcome with rage” over the violence sparked by protests.

    In response, numerous drivers and teams have expressed their sorrow on social media. Some have apologised for staying silent on the matter until they were prompted to speak up by Hamilton.  

    Many other racing series, such as NASCAR, have also posted statements indicating sadness and disgust over racial injustice.

    F1 confirms new 8-race European schedule

    F1 news

    Major news with F1 getting closer to a restart following its postponement due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

    Formula 1 organisers released their first revised schedule, featuring the opening eight races of the 2020 season. All races are based in Europe as follows and will be held behind closed doors:

    • Austrian Grand Prix - July 5 (Red Bull Ring, Austria)
    • Steirmark Grand Prix - July 12 (Red Bull Ring, Austria)
    • Hungarian Grand Prix - July 19 (Hungaroring, Hungary)
    • British Grand Prix - August 2 (Silverstone, UK)
    • F1 70th Anniversary Grand Prix - August 9 (Silverstone, UK)
    • Spanish Grand Prix - August 16 (Catalunya, Spain)
    • Belgian Grand Prix - August 30 (Spa, Belgium)
    • Italian Grand Prix - September 6 (Monza, Italy)

    The Austrian Government has reportedly approved plans to host the season-opening races. Silverstone was handed a big boost, too, after news the UK Government reportedly gave its approval.

    Current restrictions indicate anyone flying into the UK has to self-isolate for 14 days. However, those involved with elite-level sport are set to be made exempt from the requirements. Plans, however, are still subject to formal approval and F1 will have to provide detailed plans of movements, activities and precautionary measures to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

    Chase Carey, F1’s CEO, said a driver testing positive for coronavirus would not necessarily lead to race cancellation.

    Meanwhile, the prospect of a reverse-grid races to determine qualifying positions has been rejected. The proposal was raised ahead of the season’s restart, aimed at circuits holding back-to-back races. It intended to make the grid’s line-up less predictable and therefore more entertaining to viewers. However, despite attracting support from many teams, the vote failed to secure unanimity.

    Could Vettel join Mercedes?

    Motorsport news

    In more F1 news, Mercedes has been careful not to rule out signing Sebastian Vettel for the 2021 season.

    Current Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas are both out of contract in 2021. Williams driver George Russell is also contracted to Mercedes as part of its development program.

    Four-time world champion Vettel announced last month he would leave Ferrari at the end of the current season. Former team Red Bull have already said no to the possibility of re-signing him.  

    Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said in a conference call: "First of all, it is not lip service because we owe it to a four-time world champion not to come out and say straight away 'no' -- you need to think about it."

    He added: “On the other side, we have a fantastic line-up and I am happy with both our drivers and George, but you never know, one may decide he doesn't want to go racing anymore and suddenly you have a vacant spot."

    Meanwhile, Mercedes will conduct a private test session at Silverstone ahead of Formula 1’s return.

    W Series cancels 2020 Series due to COVID-19

    W Series News

    The all-female W Series announced its 2020 season has been cancelled due to the ongoing global pandemic.

    However, the Series plans to return in 2021 with a bigger and better schedule. This includes two support races on the F1 calendar in Austin, Texas and Mexico City, Mexico.

    The decision to cancel the eight-race season was made in conjunction with the FIA, F1, DTM and W Series’ partners and sponsors.

    W Series CEO Catherine Bond Muir said: “In the meantime, this year, we remain committed to developing our drivers and entertaining our loyal fans all over the world. To that end, we are progressing with our exciting and innovative new W Series Esports League, which will go live on June 11, 2020.”

    IMSA working with U.S. Homeland Security amid restart

    Motorsport news

    IMSA’s WeatherTech Sports Car Championship is set to resume in Daytona on July 4. Championship organisers have been working with U.S. Homeland Security to help overseas drivers and personnel enter the country, amid strict travel restrictions.

    Speaking to motorsport.com, IMSA president John Doonan said: “For us at IMSA, we’ve had an additional bump in the road, because the ‘I’ in IMSA is for ‘International’. We have been in touch with Homeland Security, and we’ve had meetings with them in an attempt to allow our overseas drivers and critical personnel, that we need to execute the event, to be able to get into the US. We’re encouraged by initial communications with Homeland Security, in allowing our professional athletes and engineers and mechanics to get back into the country.”

    The IMSA season was suspended after the opening 24 Hours of Daytona race in January, due to ongoing pandemic.

    Next season’s IMSA championship will look mightily different with news that Porsche is quitting the GTLM class after this season.

    The German marque cited the effects of the coronavirus pandemic as the main reasons for its withdrawal.

    Vice President of Porsche Motorsport Fritz Enzinger said: “With a view to the current corporate situation in connection with the Coronavirus pandemic, it is only logical for Porsche Motorsport to make a contribution to coping with the economic fallout. We’ve openly discussed our exit with all involved. At this point, we’d like to convey our sincere thanks to Jim France and the colleagues at IMSA for their understanding. Porsche belongs in endurance racing. We will work hard to ensure that this is only a temporary Auf Wiedersehen.”

    Indy Lights season deferred until 2021

    Indy Lights

    Indy Lights, the top rung of the Road To Indy ladder, will see its series deferred until 2021 due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

    The feeder series to IndyCar has succumbed to “several variables” affecting its 2020 calendar. Indy Lights released a statement this week saying that, as a result of the pandemic, “multiple companion events were cancelled for the series, rendering the 2020 season no longer viable.”

    Owner and CEO of Anderson Promotions Dan Andersons said: “The effects of the global pandemic on businesses, including racing, have been severe. The changes to our overall calendar of races as well as each event weekend’s scheduling and the ability for some of our drivers to compete has impacted the Indy Lights series far more harshly than our other two championships.”

    He added: “With less of a cushion to begin with, it became increasingly apparent that the 2020 season was in jeopardy and the best plan was to take a pause, reconstitute for 2021, and do our best to enhance the Indy Lights championship for next season.”

    DTM reveals new revised 2020 schedule

    German Touring Car series DTM has revealed its new 2020 schedule in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The calendar will see the championship return to Belgium’s infamous Spa circuit for the first time since 2005.

    The series was set to begin at Germany’s Norisring on July 10-12, although news is that race could be axed. The city of Nuremberg has a ban on major events taking place until September.

    That means the season could now start at Spa on August 1-2. Two rounds at Germany’s Lausitzring will follow on August 14-16 and August 21-23 respectively. The series then moves to Assen (September 4-6) before successive races at the Nürburgring on September 11-13 and 18-20.

    Back-to-back races at Belgium’s Zolder circuit take place on October 9-11 and 16-18 before the season finale at Hockenheim (November 6-8).

    And finally…McLaren honour founder with new statue

    Bruce McLaren news

    This week passed the 50-year anniversary of Bruce McLaren’s tragic death. The pioneering race car driver and engineer was killed while testing a McLaren M8D Can-Am Series car at Goodwood, UK, in 1970.

    To commemorate McLaren’s life and achievements, daughter Amanda McLaren unveiled a new life-size statue in a private ceremony at McLaren’s HQ in Woking. In addition, 50 lighted candles were placed around a 1970 McLaren M8D on display at the headquarters.

    This is the ‘sister’ car to the one in which McLaren was killed. It was driven to Can-Am Championship victory by Bruce’s team-mate and fellow Kiwi, Denny Hulme. McLaren dominated the Can-Am Series from 1967 for five successive years.

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