Sky F1 Vodcast: George Russell and Otmar Szafnauer join the team
"Prudent" belt-tightening for teams and rumours linking Toto Wolff with Aston Martin among topics discussed on must-watch Vodcast
Last Updated: 01/04/20 9:51pm
Williams driver George Russell and Racing Point chief Otmar Szafnauer joined the Sky F1 team on our latest must-watch Vodcast - with Wednesday's guests discussing a range of Formula 1 topics, as well as how they're coping during its enforced delay.
From Williams updates to topless cooking, Russell spoke to Simon Lazenby, Natalie Pinkham, Paul Di Resta and Johnny Herbert to kick-off the show, before Szafnauer enlightened us on how current behind-the-scenes talks are progressing in F1 during the coronavirus crisis.
Episode 2 of the Vodcast also included a round-up of what the 2020 grid are up to, the latest on Project Pitlane, a top-five F1 driver debate, and a look at Johnny's Esports sim setup!
Otmar on a crucial period for F1
Formula 1 teams must make "prudent decisions" and "save costs" during the current pandemic to ensure their long-term futures in the sport, according to Szafaneur on the Sky F1 Vodcast.
Eight called-off races at the start of the season has raised the prospect of a significantly reduced 2020 calendar, which would result in a drop in income for F1's 10 teams.
Lazenby compared the current economic worries to those during the financial crisis of 2008 - after which several big manufacturers, such as Toyota and BMW, left the sport - and Szafnauer admitted it was a concern.
"We lost quite a few manufacturers [in 2008], and we don't want that to happen," he said. "I remember at the time that we lost some teams as well and we had some new teams come in.
"What we've got to do is learn from that, do a bit of belt-tightening, make prudent decisions and save costs where we can because for sure the revenue isn't going to be the same."
How are the current talks going?
Szafnauer added that how much the 2021 cars are going to change for next year would be "very crucial" for some teams, as they try to save costs.
The major rules revolution for 2021 has been pushed back a year, but there has yet to be clarification on how much the current cars - yet to be raced - can be modified.
Szafnauer, whose outfit will become the Aston Martin F1 team next year, said: "Carrying the cars over, we've got to define what that means, and what parts are allowed to be developed.
"I think that will happen next week [during F1 meeting with teams] and we'll have an idea what the cars are going to look like in 2021 and what we're going to race. I hope they look like the cars we have produced now so that we save all the cost of developing a new car.
"That's going to be very crucial for a lot of the teams, especially the smaller teams. When the revenue isn't the same as we thought it's going to be, we've got to make sure that the costs aren't either."
Expanding on the current discussions, he continued: "We've recently voted to allow FOM to establish the new calendar as they see fit, without input from the teams - apart from if they have a two-day weekend or three in a row. We'll then have some input on the logistics and the capability of the team to complete such a calendar.
"And then we have relaxing some of the regulations for this year, the voting for this year, to majority. We need unanimity on everything and unanimity is difficult to get in Formula 1, even in trying times like this. So there are some regulations you only need a majority agreement, but others you still need unanimity."
What about those Wolff-Aston rumours?
On the day that Racing Point's rebrand to Aston Martin works status from next year was formally confirmed with major investment into the British car brand completed by a consortium led by team owner Lawrence Stroll, Szafaneur was also asked whether there was any truth to speculation that Mercedes' title-winning boss Toto Wolff, a friend of Stroll's, could join the Canadian there in 2021.
"It's not really for me to say, that's a better question for Toto, but if you're asking me to guess, Toto this year and next year will be running Mercedes Grand Prix and trying to make history by winning another world championship," replied Szafaneur.
"In all but one of the team principals' meetings, he's participated. He'll be on the next one, so I don't see him doing anything other than that."
When contacted by the Sky F1 Vodcast, Mercedes strongly dismissed the reports linking Wolff with Aston Martin.