Pandemic prompts review of Superlicence system

Jamie Woodhouse

Formula 2 and Formula 3 could start racing on alternate weekends.

The FIA will review their Superlicence system to ensure that the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t put series and drivers at a disadvantage.

The system was brought in to ensure that drivers worked their way through the junior series before reaching Formula 1. Largely it was a response to the career paths of Max Verstappen and Lance Stroll who were both launched into Formula 1 from the European F3 series as teenagers.

Under the current rules drivers must collect 40 points to be eligible to drive in Formula 1.

However, with the regular schedules ripped up by various racing series around the world due to the pandemic, some drivers who were on the right path for a Formula 1 superlicence have been adversely affected.

Red Bull junior Juri Vips for example was set to race in the Super Formula Championship but can’t get access to Japan.

The Indy Lights season has been cancelled for 2020 and the Macau Grand Prix is also set to be axed.

FIA Formula 2 and Formula 3 drivers meanwhile are largely unaffected as they follow the Formula 1 schedule as part of the support programme.

So, to make the Superlicence system fair again, the FIA in a statement said they will “ensure that the super licence system that underpins its pathway from junior competition to the top levels of single-seater racing continues to provide competitors with fair and equitable opportunities to progress.”

“The measures being explored by the FIA Super Licence Working Group, in consultation with a wide variety of circuit racing teams, promoters and drivers, also seek to safeguard potentially vulnerable series by specifically targeting the encouragement of participation once competitive activity resumes.

“It will also address any disparity in the system that might be caused by differing re-start times due to the varying threat levels presented by COVID-19 around the world.”

President of the FIA Single-Seater Commission Stefano Domenicali said: “Many circuit racing series are experiencing economic difficulty, while competitors are naturally concerned about missing a season or committing to a competition amid uncertainty around the re-commencement of racing, and the negative impact either may have on their progress along the FIA’s single-seater pathway.

“The FIA is cognisant of these concerns and we would like to reassure series, teams and competitors that through the Super Licence Working Group the Federation is developing solutions that will afford fairness to competitors, encourage participation and help series maintain some stability during this difficult period.”

FIA Drivers’ Commission president Tom Kristensen added that the FIA “appreciate that there may be some unease among drivers over ever-changing racing calendars and how potential imbalances in the scoring of super licence points could negatively affect their progress towards the top of the FIA’s racing ladder.

“The Working Group is consulting with single-seater stakeholders in order to balance the points system so that no drivers are disadvantaged by the changed landscape of motorsport in 2020.”

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