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Sebastian Vettel, Esteban Ocon on implications of a shorter F1 season

Vettel and Ocon on the prospect of fewer races than planned in F1 2020 as the sport works on putting together a racing schedule; And how often is F1's champion ahead in a season early?

Sebastian Vettel and Esteban Ocon believe a shorter Formula 1 season would still result in a worthy 2020 world champion.

But they have both stressed a more condensed campaign would place an extra premium on consistency - with Ocon admitting teams and drivers would be left without any "jokers" to play in their results.

This year had been scheduled to be the longest F1 campaign in history at 22 races, but the sport is now targeting a campaign of between 15 and 18 events once racing is able to resume in safe circumstances.

Tentative plans are being put in place to open the season with a behind-closed-doors Austrian GP on July 5, provided relevant government permissions are given, but F1 have also stressed they know nothing can yet be set in stone amid the fast-moving coronavirus crisis.

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Speaking on the F1 show, Martin Brundle and Karun Chandhok give their thoughts on plans to start the season behind closed doors at the Austrian GP

The continued growth of the F1 calendar means at least 19 events per season were held in the 2010s, while every season since 1984 has featured a minimum of 16 races.

But however long the 2020 campaign ends up being, Renault driver Ocon reckons it would not devalue the achievements of the year's eventual title winners.

"The more we can do the better it would be for a championship," Ocon told Sky Sports News. "But I agree that for a good 10 races or more if we can do that it would be still valid.

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"There are enough races and it's the same for everyone to determine who is the best and who's not in the end."

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Renault driver Esteban Ocon expects reliability to play an even greater role in determining the Formula 1 title if the season is reduced by coronavirus

Vettel, the four-time world champion and potential 2020 title challenger with Ferrari again, agreed.

Also speaking to Sky Sports, Vettel said: "Obviously, we had less races in the past, and more races today, but I don't think it makes a big difference. A season is the season whether it's 10, 15, 20 or 25 races.

"You still have to be the one who is most consistent. With less races every race is more important, but in the end the championship will still be the championship. It's still a long way and a single race weekend is a long way."

But with fewer opportunities to recover from setbacks, Ocon warned: "There's not going to be any joker [to play]!

"There's no places to DNF. It's going to be very important to finish all the races, score all the points available, and get it to the finish."

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Sebastian Vettel speaks to Sky Sports News' Craig Slater about Ferrari contract talks, a shorter F1 season - plus a fitting tribute to Sir Stirling Moss

How often is the eventual champion ahead early in a season?

Former champion and Sky F1 pundit Nico Rosberg recently said a shorter season "increases the chances of there being a surprise champion... because then of course luck plays a bigger role".

A look at the statistics from the last decade show how a season's eventual title winner does not always hit the front early and stay there.

Who leads the championship when in a season?

Season (Races) Leader after 10 races Leader after 15 races Champion
2010 (19) Hamilton Webber Vettel
2011 (19) Vettel Vettel Vettel
2012 (20) Alonso Alonso Vettel
2013 (19) Vettel Vettel Vettel
2014 (19) Rosberg Hamilton Hamilton
2015 (19) Hamilton Hamilton Hamilton
2016 (21) Rosberg Rosberg Rosberg
2017 (20) Vettel Hamilton Hamilton
2018 (21) Vettel Hamilton Hamilton
2019 (21) Hamilton Hamilton Hamilton

As the table shows, the respective world champion in each of the last 10 years was only ahead after 10 rounds of the season on five occasions.

But after 15 rounds, the driver who would end up winning the championship was in the points lead all-but twice - the exceptions being Vettel in 2010 and 2012.

Would double headers give repeat results?

Ocon was also asked whether holding two races at the same venue would essentially result in the same, or similar, results from one weekend to the next.

It is understood F1's current plans to start the season include double headers on consecutive weekends in Austria, before heading to Silverstone for another back-to-back.

"Of course, if you win you want to come back and be winning again, but I had the experience of doing that in Formula 3 and DTM and it's never the same results," said the Frenchman.

"When you come back you are stronger the second time. Things change and people work better on the second time or don't improve enough, so it's going to be very different if we do it like that."

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