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F1 owners unveil blueprint of changes for the series going forward

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SAKHIR, Bahrain (AP) — Formula One owner Liberty Media plans to introduce a cost cap and help make engines cheaper and louder in their future blueprint for the series.

U.S.-owned Liberty took over last year after Bernie Ecclestone’s 40-year reign. F1 managing director of motorsports Ross Brawn presented the ownership’s plans beyond 2020 when the current rules – known as the Concorde Agreement – expire.

“We are driven by one desire: To create the world’s leading sporting brand,” F1 CEO Chase Carey said. “Fan-centered, commercially successful, profitable for our teams, and with technological innovation at its heart.”

The proposed blueprint focuses on engines, revenue, a more streamlined governance, regulations, and cost-cutting. Teams have yet to agree on it, with Ferrari and Mercedes previously expressing concern at the direction of F1.

F1 wants cheaper, louder, more powerful engines – but also wants them more reliable to reduce the amount of grid penalties. The new engines, or power units, must also be accessible to any new teams planning to enter the series.

Mercedes head of motorsport Toto Wolff previously said teams must overcome their differences in the face of a threat by Ferrari to quit. Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne has spoken out against simplifying engines and redistributing prize money more fairly.

Although F1 says new engines in 2021 will have “some standardized elements, car differentiation must remain a core value” – which may help appease Ferrari in particular.

The idea of a cost cap may, however, give Mercedes and Ferrari even more financial clout than other teams. F1 did not give any figures for the proposed cost cap.

F1 also hopes to level the playing field in terms of revenue distribution, which it says “must be more balanced” and “based on meritocracy” rather than long-standing prestige.

F1 also wants to increase overtaking. F1 races have become somewhat predictable, with Mercedes dominating the past four seasons and Red Bull doing the same before them. Drivers making a strong start from pole position in a more powerful car are rarely troubled. F1 hopes that reducing the impact of engineering technology and putting more emphases back on “driver’s skill” will help that goal.

While teams will remain free to develop aerodynamics, suspension, and engines, F1 wants standardized parts for other areas “not relevant” to watching fans.

Finally, in a bid to improve relations between motorsport governing body FIA, teams, and owners, F1 hopes for “a simple and streamlined structure.”

Drivers, who have minimal input, are also divided on future changes. Lewis Hamilton, whose contract with Mercedes expires after this season, said he’s paying careful attention to what F1 officials propose because it could impact him in how long he re-signs for, as well as other elements of a proposed new contract.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway can have 10,000 fans for IndyCar races

Indianapolis Motor Speedway fans
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Indianapolis Motor Speedway will have crowds for its NTT IndyCar Series race weekend next month, the first time fans are allowed at the track this year.

The track announced Friday that up to 10,000 fans will be allowed in the grandstands daily from Oct. 1-4. The IndyCar Harvest GP race doubleheader will be held on the track’s road course Oct. 2-3.

IMS has played host to several events this year without fans, including the 104th Indianapolis 500 on Aug. 23 and a NASCAR-IndyCar weekend July 4-5 that included the Brickyard 400. Plans originally were made to have fans at the Indy 500 before reversing course a few weeks ahead of the race. In a letter last month, Roger Penske vowed that fans would return for the 2021 Indy 500.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS president Doug Boles said in a release. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

Fans will undergo temperature screenings upon entry and also be required to wear face coverings at all times on property. The track said each attendee will receive a mask and bottle of hand sanitizer.

The Friday, Oct. 2 race will be shown at 3:30 p.m. ET on USA, and NBC will broadcast the Saturday, Oct. 3 race at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Here’s the release from Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020 – For the first time in 2020, Indianapolis Motor Speedway will welcome fans to the Racing Capital of the World for the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR weekend. Up to 10,000 spectators can be in the grandstands each day of racing action Oct. 1-4, per approval from the Marion County Public Health Department.

Tickets are available now via IMS.com and will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

The massive facility, which holds more than 300,000 people, will provide two spectator zones with up to 5,000 fans in each. The zones will be located in Turns 1 and 4 of the oval, offering strong sightlines of the road course. Strict health and safety rules will be in place, including the following:

  • Face coverings must be worn throughout the property at all times;
  • All fans will receive temperature screenings before gate entry;
  • Grandstand seats will be marked for distancing;
  • Attendees must use pre-assigned gates and remain in their designated zones.

Global Medical Response, the world leader in compassionate, quality emergency medical and patient relocation services, will be the presenting sponsor of the penultimate weekend of INDYCAR racing this season.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

The plan, which includes each attendee receiving a mask and a bottle of hand sanitizer upon entering the track, was developed in consultation with state and local health officials.

This event weekend is highlighted by an NTT INDYCAR SERIES doubleheader, with races Friday, Oct. 2 and Saturday, Oct. 3. It will be the penultimate event of the series’ season as the field pursues the champion’s prestigious Astor Challenge Cup to be awarded Sunday, Oct. 25 at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The INDYCAR Harvest GP will pay tribute to a storied IMS event, the Harvest Classic in September 1916. The Harvest Classic was the only racing event held outside of May at IMS from 1911 through 1993. The event featured three races, all won by legendary driver Johnny Aitken.

Fans also will see a host of facility improvements during the event weekend, including more than 30 new LED video boards, refreshed concession stands and restrooms, and 5G wireless connectivity throughout the facility.

The first race will air at 3:30 p.m. (ET) Friday, Oct. 2 on the USA Network. NBC will broadcast the second race at 2:30 p.m. (ET) Saturday, Oct. 3, with WTHR-13 airing the action live in Central Indiana.

Also racing that weekend will be the first pairing of two major sports car series — the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli and its North American counterpart, GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS. Former Indianapolis 500 pole winner Ryan Briscoe is among the drivers in the Indianapolis 8 Hour event held Sunday, Oct. 4.

The event also will showcase drivers in SRO America’s Pirelli GT4 America, GT Sports Club America and the TC America series.

The full on-track schedule is available at IMS.com.