Pirro against idea of hosting fees for F1 races behind closed doors

If the season has to begin behind closed doors, former Formula One driver Emanuele Pirro believes no hosting fees should be asked for.

Lewis Hamilton celebrates winning the 2019 French Grand Prix, but this year's race is under threat.   -  Getty Images

Formula One should cancel hosting fees so the 2020 season can begin behind closed doors, according to Emanuele Pirro.

Pirro, a five-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, competed in F1 for three years and now works as a steward on behalf of the FIA and also sits on the drivers commission.

With the 2020 season in jeopardy after the coronavirus pandemic forced eight races to be postponed and the Monaco Grand Prix to be cancelled, the Italian believes drastic measures are required.

The start of the campaign has already been delayed by over three months and it is widely expected the French Grand Prix, which is set to kick the racing off on June 28, will be called off with restrictions on public events set to continue until mid-July.

Pirro believes racing behind closed doors could work, but only if F1 makes a financial sacrifice.

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He told Stats Perform: "There are sports that can be played behind closed doors and football as a sport could be closer to a restart. We cannot do the same in F1, because the tickets represent the only income for the promoters, who pay a very important fee to F1.

"Only Bahrain was keen to do the grand prix behind closed doors, but their situation is very different.

"It will be difficult to restart an event which requires the presence of the public. It is easier to test the positivity [for COVID-19] of people working in the circus, but a vast public is less controllable.

"One solution I may think of, is that F1 no longer asks a fee from promoters during this emergency, relinquishing a part of income.

"We could have grands prix behind closed doors and broadcast on television. So far nobody mentioned this scenario – it may sound extreme and absurd.

"The only alternative for us is to wait for the world to open its doors to us and only then we could restart racing."

Planned technical regulation changes for the 2021 season have already been pushed back to 2022 and Pirro thinks the ongoing hiatus offers a chance to look at how to provide a more level playing field in F1.

"I am a positive person by nature. This is an opportunity to rethink our sport, which is too expensive and untouchable," said Pirro.

"You can do this sport spending much less and perhaps making it a two-day event rather than three days. It would be possible to run a team with less than 1,000 people.

"We can do F1 without designing a new car every year only for two teams. I do not understand why it is not allowed to sell cars to client teams like it used to happen in the past. Even smaller teams are forced to design a new car which needs to be chucked at the end of the season.

"Perhaps this situation can encourage us to review rules which seem dogmatic and make a more sustainable and accessible F1."

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