Formula 1 has brought its summer shutdown forward – and extended it – following a delayed start to the season amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The shutdown, when teams must cease all race and car-related activity, usually takes place in August but has now been moved to March and April, with the World Motor Sport Counciil approving the change on Wednesday.
It has also been extended from a fortnight to 21 continuous days across the two months, as the sport tries to adapt to the challenges presented by coronavirus while also allowing more flexibility for the calendar.
The switch to a three-week shutdown by the end of April frees up August for potential races – which is now a strong possibility.
“In light of the global impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus currently affecting the organisation of FIA Formula One World Championship events, the World Motor Sport Council has approved a change to the 2020 FIA Formula 1 Sporting Regulations, moving the summer shutdown period from July and August to March and April and extending it from 14 to 21 days,” read an FIA statement.
“All competitors must therefore observe a shutdown period of 21 consecutive days during the months of March and/or April.
“The change was supported unanimously by both the F1 Strategy Group and F1 Commission.”
F1 has had four races either cancelled or postponed – in Australia, Bahrain, Vietnam and China.
The 2020 season is currently stated to start on May 3 in Zandvoort, although that GP, along with those in Barcelona and Monaco, are in serious doubt.