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Hakkinen expects ‘ridiculous’ F1 engine penalty problem to get worse

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Two-time Formula 1 world champion Mika Hakkinen expects the sport’s “ridiculous” engine penalty problem to only get worse in 2018 when teams face a reduction in the number of parts they can use.

Following a litany of engine penalties through the 2017 season that saw many drivers receive sanctions they could not fully serve, F1 bosses moved to improve the system for next year by capping the maximum grid drop to 15 places before being sent to the back of the grip.

However, with teams facing a reduction from four to three allowed usages of each power unit component through the season, concerns have been raised that penalties will only increase through 2018.

Writing in his Unibet blog, Hakkinen discussed the main negatives with F1 through 2017, highlighting both the engine penalty issues and concerns about the policing of track limits, a topic that flared up over the United States Grand Prix weekend.

“Two negative points about Formula 1 in 2017 were the continuing problems concerning track limits and the ridiculous number of grid penalties awarded to drivers as a result of powertrain problems,” Hakkinen wrote.

‘I have made my view on track limits very clear; the lines are there for a good reason and the current drivers should respect them. The alternative is the old, high, kerbs which were very dangerous and could launch a car into the air.

“As for the engine penalties, I know the FIA has simplified the system for 2018, but with the number of permitted engines being reduced from four to three, I can see more problems during the course of a long and very competitive season.

“On a more positive note, Formula 1 in 2018 promises to be even more competitive. I am sure Mercedes will again be the team to beat, but Ferrari will build on what they learned this year and Red Bull Racing will be joined by McLaren in having a supply of Renault engines.”

Dutch Grand Prix becomes fourth Formula 1 race canceled this season

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ZANDVOORT, Netherlands — The Dutch Grand Prix became the fourth Formula One race canceled this season because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, after organizers decided Thursday they didn’t want to play host to an event without spectators.

It was to be the first Dutch GP since 1985, but F1 wants to start the season with no spectators at races.

“We would like to celebrate this moment, the return of Formula 1 in Zandvoort, together with our racing fans in the Netherlands,” race director Jan Lammers said in a statement. “We ask everyone to be patient. I had to look forward to it for 35 years, so I can wait another year.”

The race in Zandvoort was set for May 3 and initially postponed. Fans who bought tickets can use them next year.

The coastal circuit has been redesigned, with some corners banked to facilitate faster racing.

The other races canceled this year were the season-opening Australian GP on March 15; the Monaco GP on May 24; and the French GP on June 28.

Another six have been postponed.

F1 organizers still hope to reschedule those and hold 15 to 18 races this season, starting in July with back-to-back races at the Austrian GP.