Formula 1 cancelled the Australian Grand Prix at the last minute and Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko believes Ferrari and Mercedes are to blame for that.
Claims engine suppliers held customers hostage
Formula 1 made the call to cancel the Australian Grand Prix hours after a McLaren team member tested positive for the coronavirus, the first of two positive tests in the F1 paddock.
But not all the teams supported the call to shut down the race.
Red Bull has made it clear on several occasions that it wanted to race.
Team boss Christian Horner was open to putting in the laps in Friday practice and taking the coronavirus situation one day at a time, re-evaluating after each day.
He was also in favour of racing behind closed doors if it came to that.
However, after hours of debating the matter, the vote swung in favour of cancelling the race.
Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko wasn’t happy.
“We would have been ready to race,” he told Auto Motor und Sport.
“There was a corona case in the paddock. Now that everyone was already there, you could have started free practice, carried out further examinations and then made a final decision.”
He then implied that Ferrari and Mercedes, who both supply two other teams with engines, held their customers hostage by refusing to hand over power units.
“Others were ready,” Marko said, “but they wouldn’t have got an engine.”
Gives weight to reports Merc swung the vote
Although the vote was 5:5 when the first count was made immediately after McLaren withdrew from the grand prix, it later swung in favour of cancellation.
That, according to reports, is because of Mercedes.
The German media claims Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff first said yes but after a conversation with the big bosses over in Germany, voted no as Dailmer felt going ahead with the race would be bad for public image.
Asked when it took F1 almost 10 hours to announce the cancellation, Marko confirmed that votes changed.
“Because certain people had changed their minds several times,” he said.
Of course the question of liability and money was also involved.
“It will definitely be a liability issue now,” he added. “As far as I understand, there was an okay from the organiser and the health authorities.”
So when will Formula 1 race?
May’s Monaco Grand Prix or June’s Azerbaijan race? Or later?
The 2020 Formula 1 season could begin in May with the Monaco Grand Prix. Azerbaijan is also being touted as a possible season-opener but at the moment no one honestly has any idea.
Last Friday Formula 1 finally acknowledged that the coronavirus outbreak is bigger than the sport and, despite taking the baffling decision to head to Melbourne, cancelled the Australian Grand Prix.
A day later F1 bosses announced that neither Bahrain nor Vietnam would take place on their scheduled dates, instead postponed. The Dutch and Spanish GPs are also expected to be postponed as they are scheduled for 3 and 10 May respectively.
That leaves Monaco as the next in line.
The Automobile Club de Monaco said in a statement that the F1 grand prix is “currently expected to take place as originally planned”.
Monaco, though, could have a problem thanks to Italy’s lockdown.
F1-Insider is reporting that all the temporary facilities at the Monaco Grand Prix are built by an Italian work crew. Not only is that crew is lockdown, but the Principality has also banned people from Italy entering the country.
That means Baku could mark the opening race of the season but even that is in doubt as the country has began cancelling visas.
@f1broadcasting I have flights books to Baku for the F1 race in June. This morning I got an email to tell me my Azerbaijan visa has been annulled. My Visa was due to start on June 4th. Doesn’t bode well for the race I fear.— Scott McCarthy (@MenaceF1) March 16, 2020
Next stop is Canada on 14 June, which is three months from now. We can only hope that world has contained this pandemic by then.