F1 cancellation Austin
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F1 cancels 2020 races in United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico

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Formula One officially announced Friday the cancellation of its F1 races in the United States (at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas), Canada, Mexico and Brazil this season.

In a statement, the series said the decision was “due to the fluid nature of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, local restrictions and the importance of keeping communities and our colleagues safe.”

Formula One CEO Chase Carey said the series would bring the races back to the schedule in 2021.

The U.S. round for F1 was scheduled for the Oct. 23-25 race weekend at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas. In a statement after the F1 cancellation, COTA chairman Bobby Epstein said advance ticket sales deposits for Austin were up nearly 250 percent after a 2019 sellout.

In a phone interview with the Associated Press, Epstein said “this isn’t about sports or economics of a business. This is about health and a pandemic and a global crisis. We’re not unique. We’re heavily reliant on international events.”

The Austin track has played host to F1 since 2012 and is under contract through 2021. Epstein wouldn’t comment on contract negotiations for a new deal, or if F1 would extend a year because of the cancellation.

Epstein said the Austin track instead to play host to the U.S. Grand Prix “for a long time. That is the intent. I don’t think we ever intended for this to be 10 (races) and done.”

The news comes on the heels of the July 8 announcement that COTA’s MotoGP event also was canceled, leaving the track with no major racing events for this year.

F1 also announced the addition of three new rounds this fall in Germany, Portugal and Italy, bringing the 2021 calendar to 13 races.

The demise of the North and South America races had been expected. Two weeks ago, McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown said it was unlikely the rounds would happen.

“We’d very much like to race at all those circuits,” Brown said. “Unfortunately, my opinion is it’s probably unlikely we’ll race at any of those venues this year. That’s obviously due to the COVID situation. … Let’s see what happens, but certainly it seems like the spikes in Texas are pretty severe and Brazil and Mexico and Canada a little less so. But if we miss them this year, we certainly look forward to going back to those venues next year.”

Sergio Perez still has coronavirus; will miss second consecutive F1 race

F1 Sergio Perez out
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SILVERSTONE, England — Sergio Perez will be out for a second F1 race at Silverstone this week after again testing positive for the coronavirus.

The Mexican driver had hoped to return to Formula One after spending seven days in quarantine, but his Racing Point team said this morning he had tested positive.

“He is physically well and recovering,” the team said. “The whole team wishes Sergio and his family well and we look forward to his return.”

That means German veteran Nico Hulkenberg again fills in for Sunday’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix after having also replaced Sergio Perez when he was out for the F1 British Grand Prix at the same venue last week. Hulkenberg did not start that race because of an engine problem.

There are two consecutive weekends of racing at Silverstone as Formula One tries to pack in races following the pandemic-delayed start to the season.

Perez became the first Formula One driver to test positive for coronavirus, and it had been unclear whether he would be available to drive after the period of quarantine was extended to 10 days.

Racing Point also was in the news Friday after being hit with a 15-point penalty in the Formula One constructors’ championship and fined 400,000 euros ($470,000) Friday for using brake ducts based on those from last year’s Mercedes cars.

The stewards ruled that Mercedes was the “principal designer” of the parts, and that Racing Point made only minor changes to computer design data it received from Mercedes.

Rival team Renault filed protests about the legality of the brake ducts, which were added to the “listed parts” under F1 rules for 2020. That means teams must design their own. Racing Point argued it was merely using information about the Mercedes parts to inform its own design.

Racing Point uses customer engines from Mercedes and has admitted basing its 2020 car design on photographs of last year’s Mercedes car. The similarities led to the Racing Point being nicknamed the “pink Mercedes” when it was first seen in testing ahead of the season.

Racing Point can appeal the ruling. The points deduction drops the team from fifth to sixth in the standings, below Renault. The ruling doesn’t affect the points totals for Racing Point’s drivers.