Marko says lost races 'could cost teams 100 million'

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Red Bull motorsports consultant Dr Helmut Marko says that the financial repercussions of losing five races from this year's Formula 1 world championship season could prove devastating to the teams.

All F1 teams rely on revenue distributed from the pot of prize money which is shared out according to the final constructors championship standings at the end of the year.

But that money could shrink by a third or more as a result of the postponements and cancelations caused by the global spread of coronavirus.

The 2020 season was expected to be comprised of 22 events which would have been a record number of Grands Prix in a single year. Now could shrink to just 15 races, which would make it the shortest calendar since 1983.

F1 bosses still hopes that a number of the postponed races can be rescheduled later in the year once the COVID-19 lockdowns are eased, but some - including Australia and Monaco - are definitely off.

Even the best case scenario of running 17-18 races in 2020 will have a huge impact on the bottom line for all the teams.

"All teams face loss of revenue. If five races are canceled, 100 million will be lost," Marko told Austrian news publication Österreich this week.

Marko added that the situation meant teams had no choice but to delay the introduction of new rules and regulations originally planned for 2021.

"That makes a lot of sense," he said. "Now we have stable regulations. If we freeze that, the cost will drop enormously, and the reform would fall below the planned budget ceiling."

Currently all the teams are using the opportunity to present national anti-virus lockdowns as a chance to take their summer shutdown, to allow F1 to schedule races in August.

"Our factory is still working at full throttle. Hopefully after the summer break we can start again," Marko confirmed. "We want to take our chance and compete for the title with Max."

Race winner Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB15 takes the chequered flag at the end of the race.

He added that he still hoped the season would get underway in time for Red Bull's home race, the Austrian Grand Prix on July 9 at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg.

"It has to go on," Marko insisted. "Our marketing activities should start in mid-May, we keep all plans up to date."

At 74 years old, Marko is among the group of 'high risk' patients being told by doctors to scrupulously self-isolate for the next few months.

He's already had a close brush with the virus as he was briefly in Australia for the season opener that was abandoned at short notice after a member of the McLaren team tested positive for coronavirus.

"I landed [in Melbourne] on Friday, the day they canceled the GP," he confirmed. "Then I flew back immediately - via the coronavirus hotspot Airport Dubai!

"A huge number of people of all nations have crowded together in a confined space. If you don't catch anything there, I wouldn't know where else.

"In the supermarket, people are fighting over the goods or standing closely at the checkout," he continued. "But if there are three of you in a square outside, an official comes and asks what's going on! Insane.

"We all have to deal with it," he added. "I don't believe in sealing everything off completely. The risk group is very limited. Since the chance of death is much higher than with a normal flu. The rest of the process is much more harmless."

And as you'd expect from the man, Marko has a unique plan for dealing with the situation at an individual level.

"In addition to working in the office, I respond to my frustration in forestry with a chainsaw!"

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