CHENNAI: “Airports mainly” says the location section in Karun Chandhok’s Twitter bio. As a racer and then as a broadcaster, Chandhok has been on the road with the Formula One travelling party for years now. March though was a very different month for him with Chandhok finding himself more or less confined to his home in England. “I’ve got a 15-month-old and I’m trying to entertain him all day,” said Chandhok, one of only two Indians to ever race in F1. “I can’t take him to the park and all the other play areas. He’s stuck at home with us all day. He’s frustrated and fed up with us.
” The COVID-19 outbreak has thrown a cloud over the F1 season with eight races already been either cancelled or delayed. Current plans call for the season to finally start with the Canadian Grand Prix in June. However, with the major events like the Olympics, the European football championships and Wimbledon cancelled or postponed to 2021, it remains to be seen if holding any of the races this year is feasible. Chandhok though thinks at least part of the season can be held. “F1 is different to the Olympics and Wimbledon,” he said. “It happens on a global level.
Olympics and Wimbledon were scheduled for a specific time of the year.” “As we sit here, there is no guarantee that we will race in 2020,” he added. “Right now, the general view is that the earliest we can start is by August. Then we have to see. Between August and December, we have four and a half months, you can still do twelve races in that window. If we can get that in, that will be a packed schedule and it will, at least, get everyone some taste of F1 for the year and we will have a championship.
” The longer F1 remains grounded, the more serious the financial implications are for both the teams and the championship. On Thursday, McLaren became the first team to furlough staff, announcing the measure as an attempt to protect jobs during the downtime. Even their drivers Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz took a pay cut. “On one side, they’re not spending money, because they are not racing,” said Chandhok. “On the other side, their fixed costs are high. What they’re doing to offset this is, they’re postponing the introduction of new rules (which was supposed to begin from 2021).
They’re going to freeze the rules, they are going to come up with the regulation that 2020 cars can be carried on to 2021. That means the money that the teams would have spent for that, they can now use to get out of financial difficulties.” For F1, Chandhok believes the true financial impact will only be apparent when their owner Liberty Media disclose it. But he, like the rest of the F1 community, is figuring out how to get on with their jobs from within the confines of their homes.
“The racetrack design work that I do, I’m able to do online,” he said. “The work with Sky (Sports), we’ve started recording shows at home. I did a show with (Jenson) Button and (Martin) Brundle on Monday. On Friday, we have a show with Lando Norris. There are fans out there, they are sitting at home and they’re bored. So they want to hear from people.”