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Williams: Staff safety 'paramount' before F1's return - Sky F1 Vodcast

Claire Williams discusses F1's potential July return, reduced cost-cap, and more with drivers George Russell and Nicholas Latifi, plus Sky F1's Rachel Brookes and Johnny Hebert on latest Vodcast

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Claire Williams discusses the F1 cost-cap on the Sky F1 Vodcast, as well as the sport's return with drivers George Russell and Nicholas Latifi.

Claire Williams has told Sky F1 that the well-being of the famous team's staff will be "paramount" before F1 returns - although she has backed the sport's health and safety plans ahead of a potential July start.

The deputy team principal of the Grove outfit, as well as drivers George Russell and Nicholas Latifi, were the special guests on Wednesday's Sky F1 Vodcast, with the trio discussing the latest news in F1 - from the calendar to cost-cap meetings - as well as eSports, training and much more.

And while Williams reiterated that it was critical for the team's survival to get back racing, she said on the show that she wouldn't be sending her staff back to race tracks - or the factory - if it wasn't safe.

"It is scary that you could not just lose one or two teams, but an awful lot of teams if you don't get back racing because the financial model we have in our sport is that we are all so reliant upon the money we receive from the results in the constructors championship," Williams said.

"But you have to weigh up the need to go back racing in order to ensure your team's survival against the very important reality of ensuring that your people remain safe.

"For me, at the end of the day my people are always going to win out. I certainly hope that doesn't cost us our team, but the safety of our people, whether that be returning them to work at Grove, or asking them to travel, is going to be absolutely paramount.

"We will certainly not be sending people back racing until it is appropriate to do so."

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The season is set to start in July, with double headers in Austria and Silverstone planned. F1 chief Ross Brawn confirmed on the F1 Show that anyone entering the paddock would be tested for COVID-19 beforehand, as well as every two days while on-site to create a "bubble of isolation".

Williams added: "I know the work F1 have been doing, they've been putting an awful lot of time and energy into this to see what they can do in order to take us back racing and to do that safely.

"They're going to make sure that they put in every possible health and safety regulation that they need to and make sure we're all doing it in absolutely the right way before we actually go back to the race track."

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Virtual racing has brought George Russell and Alex Albon closer... and often a little too close for Albon's liking on track!

Williams happy with lower cost-cap, will create 'more competitive racing'

F1 are in the final stages of introducing a reduced cost-cap for 2021, with the spending limit - which was initially set at $175m - expected to be around the $145m mark.

Great news for Williams, according to Claire.

"We've always been really supportive of the cost-cap coming in, we've been talking about it for almost a decade now, the need for F1 to have a cost-cap," she said.

"It's so important for teams like ours who are independent who don't just have unlimited amounts of budget. And so we were delighted when the $175m budget came through and then with coronavirus we've had to readdress that situation and it's going to be coming in at an even lower level, which is clearly even better news for a team like ours."

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Martin Brundle tells The F1 Show why the 'ground rules have changed so much' amid the coronavirus pandemic as F1's teams attempt to thrash out an agreement on F1's 2021 cost cap

Williams also appreciated that it wouldn't please every team - with Ferrari and Red Bull in particular thought to be favouring a higher number.

"There are difficulties for the big teams [with a $145m cap]. They're operating on budgets that are so much greater than that and I think the very fact that they've seen the reality and the gravity of the situation, it's not going to be easy moving forward and they've had to come down even further. I have great sympathy for them but also I'm so pleased that they've seen the enormity of the situation and reacted in the way that they've needed to.

"This whole process has been about compromise. You've got the top three teams that are working with such a greater budget than that and then you've got a group in the middle which are somewhere closer to the $175m and then all of us down at the other end that can't even meet a $145m budget.

"You've got to find a middle ground somewhere and coming down from the $175m to whatever it may end up at, is always going to be better for teams like ours. We might not meet it straight away but it just brings the ceiling down, and that will create more competitive racing, and better racing for the fans."

Watch the full Sky F1 Vodcast

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Cost-caps, a return to racing, crashing into Alex Albon and much more... it's a Williams special on the Sky F1 Vodcast as Claire Williams, George Russell, Nicholas Latifi join Rachel Brookes and Johnny Herbert!

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