PARIS, France, Apr 17 – Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel on Friday cautioned against the temptation to shoehorn too many Formula One races into a revised calendar, describing the move as “not realistic”.
The 22-event F1 season has been decimated by the coronavirus with nine races either cancelled or postponed.
The French Grand Prix scheduled for June 28 is also in doubt as is the Belgian Grand Prix, set for August 30.
F1 chiefs have floated the idea of making up for lost time by staging races on successive weekends or even having two races on the same weekend.
However, Ferrari star Vettel fears such a move could lead to burnout for team staff.
“We drivers are a little privileged,” Vettel told reporters by teleconference from his home in Switzerland.
“Of course, the races are tiring but there have to be limits for the staff. They must rest.
“We must also see if it is easy to reschedule races, if the circuits are not already taken. Many questions remain. I think the schedule will be busier, but 10 consecutive weekends is not realistic.”
Vettel suggested that he would favour staging races without fans if it allowed a quick resumption as long as it did not become a common feature.
Other sports have already toyed with the idea of staging events behind closed doors.
– ‘It’s complicated’ –
For example, the US PGA Tour on Thursday announced plans to resume in June, with the first four tournaments being closed to spectators.
“It’s complicated,” admitted Vettel.
“On the one hand, there is the health of the sport, on the other, that of the people who work in the paddock and especially the fans.
“There are several options. No one likes to run in front of empty stands, but we will have to see if it will not allow us to resume much sooner.
“The first races will probably be a little different, but not too much, I hope, because we want to run in front of the fans.”
Vettel insists that for him even a 10-race season is just as valuable as a 22-race campaign.
However, he admits that the damage to the sport caused by the coronavirus pandemic could be fatal for the smaller teams on the grid.
Without racing, the massive TV and sponsorship revenues have dried up.
Half of the teams have already started furloughing staff.
Teams have agreed to lower the spending cap from $175 million (161.4 million euros) to $150 million.
“Clearly, some small teams are in danger and, as a family, F1 has to take care of its own,” said Vettel.
– Speculation –
Spending has not been the only talk in the sport.
There has also been speculation over Vettel’s contract with Ferrari.
He penned a three-year deal with the Italian giants in 2017, reportedly worth around $112 million.
There have been talks over an extension. However, those conversations took a twist after Vettel finished the 2019 championship behind new teammate Charles Leclerc.
“At the beginning (of the coronavirus crisis), the priority was to manage the situation in the best way and therefore the negotiations were put on hold,” said Vettel.
“I think we are going to move forward but we do not have a specific deadline.”
Whatever the outcome of the discussions, Vettel said he won’t be revealing if he has been tempted to take a salary reduction.
Two weeks ago, McLaren drivers Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris said they had taken voluntary pay cuts as part of a raft of cost-cutting measures to help their team.
“Whatever happens, we will keep this decision to ourselves, as I have always done.
“I’m not going to use this to polish my image.”