Coronavirus: F1 moves summer break from August to March at April

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton is chasing a record equally seventh drivers championship' this season

Formula 1's summer break has been moved forward from August as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The new season has been thrown into disarray by the virus and F1 is working on plans to run as long a season as possible once races can be held.

Following unanimous agreement, the 'break' will be held in March and April, with teams choosing a three-week period in that time to close.

It is normally held in August, when teams shut down for two weeks.

The change, made to facilitate fitting in as many races as possible once the season starts, was approved by governing body the FIA's legislative body, the World Motor Sport Council, on Wednesday.

Further changes are expected in due course. Teams and F1 bosses are working on plans for a reshaped calendar with a reduced number of races from the 22 originally scheduled in 2020.

The four opening races in Australia, Bahrain, Vietnam and China have all been postponed, and the three next events in the Netherlands, Spain and Monaco are expected to follow in the coming days.

Ferrari are to start their shutdown on 19 March for three weeks, while Red Bull said in a statement that they were planning to shut down for three weeks from 27 March but "there may be some flexibility around those dates due to the ever-changing nature of the pandemic".

The former champions said they "agreed with the measures being taken to reduce the risk of transmission and will support any further race postponements that are deemed necessary".

They said they were "taking every possible precaution to mitigate the spread of the virus" and were "implementing special working methods, guided by the UK government and medical professionals".

F1 bosses are currently working on a plan to start the season with the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on 7 June but that is dependent on the development of the coronavirus outbreak and related global travel restrictions.

A number of races have been identified as the most likely to be left off a truncated scheduled, with Monaco, Brazil, Spain, China and Australia at the top of the list.

Teams are trying to secure the required unanimous agreement on a plan to delay until 2022 the introduction of major regulations changes which are scheduled for next season.

Nine of the 10 teams agreed to the proposal at a meeting on Tuesday, with only Ferrari asking for more time to consider it.

The idea behind the plan is to keep costs under control at a time when teams are facing reduced revenue as a result of the expected lower number of races.

A further meeting is scheduled for Thursday to discuss the matter again.

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