Former Pirelli racing boss blasts 'desperate and misguided' F1

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Former Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembery has heavily criticized Formula 1's plans to start its season in July, calling the initiative "desperate and misguided".

Hembery, who helped guide Pirelli's return to F1 in 2011, parted ways with the company last year but the Briton has kept himself abreast with F1's affairs.

F1 chief executive Chase Carey confirmed this week the sport's plans to return to action as soon as possible, pinpointing the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring on July 5 as a possible venue to finally raise the curtain on F1's 2020 season.

But Hembery believes F1's communication may have been justified by ulterior motive.

"F1 looks at best desperate and misguided, maybe at worse misleading or was this [statement] for the shareholders and the stock market?," he questioned in a social media post.

"When the world is in lockdown, and no-one is able to understand or predict the next months, F1 announces it will try and start the season in July.

"Whilst the financial challenges are enormous for the sport, and the viability of teams, promoters and the rights holder itself a big question, today was not the time to announce anything but the cancellation of the F1 season."

Hembery hints at a dire outcome for the 2020 campaign behind Carey's recent message.

"F1 is a multinational, multi-cultural sport, that even in a reduced format would be taking thousands of people across the globe. They escaped Australia by a fine margin.

“It is clear from almost all governments that the exit policy will be based around the introduction of a suitable vaccine. We are a long way from general availability of that.

"Maybe F1 knows that there is almost no hope of this calendar actually happening, maybe."


Pirelli's former racing boss urges Formula 1 to engage in a fundamental rethink of the sport and its economics to bring it in line with "real world constraints".

"It is going to need great leadership and clarity to manage this situation, creative solutions to normality, and a radical rethink of the sport and the calendar to match the real world constraints and the need to generate the finances to keep F1 alive," Hembery added.

"With the 2021 commercial agreements still not signed, the sport has no competitors for next season, and a very notable risk of the car manufacturers participation ending.

"With this unprecedented situation to deal with, it places a spend in F1 for a car producer at a very low priority level.

"Renault are requesting state support to deal with crisis. This situation is going to get worse before it gets better.

"For the world in general as it deals with the consequences of Covid-19 and it’s impact, but also for a sport like F1 that has to navigate this new scenario."

Hembery concluded his strong comments on a hopeful note, believing the current crisis has delivered a great opportunity for change, if F1's leaders are bold enough to seize it.

"From crisis can come some good, and much opportunity," he said. "The possibility to build a more compelling and financially sustainable sport that provides greater spectator interest and places the drivers at the forefront.

"It’s going to need some big bollocks and vision to do it though. It won’t be easy, far from pretty, but it needs confronting now in an honest and transparent manner."

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