The FIA have confirmed that the three-week shutdown period for Formula 1 operations has now been extended to five weeks.
The three-week shutdown usually arrives in August and is referred to as the summer break, but with the first eight rounds of the 2020 season shelved due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was agreed that the shutdown would be brought forward.
This would free up space for races during the summer, and while some teams have already started their shutdowns, the FIA have announced that the period will now be extended from three to five weeks.
Following a meeting between Formula 1 officials on Monday, an FIA statement read: “Following unanimous approval by the Formula 1 Strategy Group, Commission and all teams, the World Motor Sport Council has ratified by e-vote the decision to extend the Formula 1 shutdown period from 21 to 35 days, to be taken in March, April and/or May, for all competitors and Power Unit manufacturers.
“Further discussions regarding this topic remain open between the FIA, Formula 1 and all teams in light of the ongoing global impact of COVID-19.”
Engine manufacturers were previously exempt from the shutdown under the regulations, but this decision applies to them also – Mercedes has transformed its engine facility to produce the breathing aids which the company is supplying to help the breathing of those suffering from the virus.
Several UK-based teams, including Williams and Racing Point, have placed some of their staff on furlough to reduce costs, as has Formula 1 itself.
The Canadian Grand Prix on June 14 was set to be the the first race of the 2020 season before that was postponed, and events as far ahead as the British Grand Prix on July 19 are under threat – a decision on the fate of the British GP is needed by the end of April.