F1’s Sainz: Short season better than no season at all

Madrid, Apr 16 (efe-epa).- Spain’s Carlos Sainz (McLaren), sixth in the 2019 Formula 1 driver rankings, said Thursday that even a drastically abbreviated 2020 season would be better than a year with no racing.

Like the rest of the sporting world, F1 has found itself in limbo due to the Covid-19 coronavirus.

“I prefer to put myself in the frame that there will be fewer races than to go to the scenario of having to cancel everything. To suspend the season would be a tough blow and difficult to accept,” the 25-year-old said in response to a question from Efe during a video press conference with Spanish media outlets.

“If the situation is not brought under control, it would be totally understandable, but it would have very negative consequences for the sport and everything that surrounds it. Many jobs would be put in jeopardy and that’s never good,” the son of three-time Dakar Rally winner Carlos Sainz Sr. said.

Sainz Jr., who achieved his first F1 podium last year with a third-place finish in the Brazilian Grand Prix, acknowledged that he oscillates between hope and despair.

“It’s difficult to be up and in good spirits every day, it happens to me as it does to everyone. But it’s true that in general I’m more optimistic and I’m confident that we will return to normal sooner rather than later,” the McLaren driver said.

Amid speculation about what form the 2020 season might take, Sainz said that he expects the number of races to be closer to 10 than to 20.

“I would say between eight and 14 races,” he said. “A very different championship from what we have seen in the history of F1 up until now.”

The Spaniard evinced little enthusiasm for the idea of holding Grand Prix races behind closed doors.

“I think that an F1 without the public benefits nobody. First of all, obviously, the fans, but also the teams, the promoters, sponsors, etc. The public is an essential part of the sport. Racing behind closed doors is not ideal, but at least people will be able to watch the races on television and some revenues will be generated. In a bad situation, it doesn’t seem like a bad solution to me,” Sainz said.

As to which drivers might be helped or hurt by a season of only eight or 10 races, he said that to have a successful campaign, a driver needs “to create a momentum of good results.”

“If you have bad luck in those eight races, then your season can shine less and points are more difficult to get back. So I prefer seasons of 20 races, because it allows you to better value a driver or team’s year,” he said.

One reporter brought up the decision by Sainz and the other McLaren driver, Lando Norris, to volunteer to take a pay cut so the organization could keep the rest of the staff on the payroll in the absence of revenue.

“Obviously, I have been in contact with the team throughout this time and I was aware of how the situation was evolving, not only at the competitive level, but also organizationally inside the team,” Sainz replied.

“As the days passed and we didn’t compete, they had to take steps that affected the staff and the salaries and it was clear to me that the right thing was to agree to reduce the salary in line with the team. It was the most logical thing and I believe the right thing,” he said. EFE arh/dr

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