Light at the end of the tunnel as Racing Point to return to work on April 16

It goes without saying that the world is facing unprecedented times during one of the biggest global pandemics ever seen.

Health services are being stretched to the limit and civilian populations across the world are getting used to a new way of life, shutting themselves off from the outside world as best they can in an effort to halt the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus.

Understandably, the sporting world has also ground to a halt, with large gatherings of people the last thing that is required. As such, the Formula One world has seen the cancellation of the Australian and Monaco Grand Prix, as well as the postponement of the Chinese, Bahrain, Vietnam and Azerbaijan races.

Yet there is light at the end of the tunnel, with F1 CEO Chase Carey confident of a curtailed, but still comprehensive calendar of 15-18 races. In the meantime, fans are being kept entertained on their sofas with entertaining Esports initiatives, several F1 drivers joining celebrities and professional gamers for streamed and televised virtual races.

Several British-based outfits, including Acronis partner teams Williams and Racing Point, have also pledged assistance in the fight against coronavirus by offering to help in the manufacture of vital ventilator units, pending government approval. And after a long spell of inactivity, teams will soon be returning to their factories to prepare for a return to racing, whenever that may be.

“The challenges the world is currently facing are unlike anything I’ve known in my lifetime and clearly transcend the sport, so the decisions that have been made are the correct ones,” said Racing Point team principal Otmar Szafnauer. “In light of the latest guidance from the UK Government we shut down on Wednesday evening, our doors will be closed for at least three weeks.

“As things currently stand – and it’s important to stress that this is a constantly evolving situation – we’ll be returning to work on Thursday 16 April. We’ve also worked extremely hard over the last few weeks to ensure that all staff who can work from home have the equipment they need to set up home offices.”

Another unfortunate consequence of the coronavirus pandemic is that the radical new regulations that were planned to shake up the sport and level the playing field have been put on ice until the 2022 season. It could, of course, means another two years dominated by the ‘Big Three’ of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, but Racing Point is preparing for all eventualities and pushing as hard as ever to progress further up the grid.

“There are so many factors that are not under our control,” adds Szafnauer. “With that in mind, another decision taken between the teams and the FIA has been to delay the introduction of the new regulations until 2022. From both a logistical and a cost perspective, this makes absolute sense. Of course, that doesn’t mean we can afford to take it easy when we return to work. When we do eventually get back on track, we need to be in a position to compete – whatever the regulations. There’s still plenty of work ahead and we’ll be ready to tackle it when the time comes.”

For now, the advice is simply to sit tight, ride out the storm and stay safe. Listen to government advice, act responsibly and enjoy the Esports initiatives until such is the time that the world returns to normal.

“On behalf of everybody in the team, I’d like to thank our fans for their support at this challenging time. I’d also like to recognise the commitment and positivity of our commercial partners. As soon as it is safe to do so, we will get back to the racing. In the meantime, there are some excellent efforts going on with F1 Esports and our drivers will be involved in those online events in the weeks ahead.

“My final thought is to reinforce the government’s advice to stay at home and act responsibly; the more we all follow the guidelines, the quicker we will be back racing.  It’s important we all stay united through these unusual times and stay safe and healthy.”

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.