What will the future of motorsport look like in a post-COVID-19 world?
As I am writing this right now, all forms of major motorsport are under threat due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, with an increasing number of races across various series being cancelled or at least postponed, and a multitude of teams and manufacturers facing severe financial pressure. Obviously, if a whole season for a particular series is cancelled, the teams that compete in it won’t receive any income at all, and may be forced to withdraw altogether.
Take F1 for example. Several rounds (including Monaco) have already been abandoned altogether, with many more postponed indefinitely. Smaller teams such as Williams and Haas are on the verge of pulling out, and if they were to do so, the future of the sport would be in jeopardy:
However, the FIA seems to have realized this and introduced a budget cap of US$145 million for next year, which will decrease to US$140 million in 2022, and US$135 million from 2023-25, as part of their plan to implement rule changes to make F1 more financially sustainable for all involved:
Also, the IndyCar Series has had to cancel several rounds originally planned for this year (Toronto Barber Motorsports Park, Long Beach, Detroit, Richmond, Austin) and delay a few others (including the Indianapolis 500, which will take place in August for the first time ever), making this the first season of American open-wheel racing not to have any rounds outside the United States at all in decades - but it is expected that the cancelled races will all return to the calendar in 2021:
The WEC and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship have also had to reshuffle their calendars as well, to the point that Corvette Racing won’t be able to enter the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the first time in its history due to that race being delayed to September 19-20 this year - one week before the Mid-Ohio IMSA round, creating insurmountable logistical difficulties for the team:
However, a tie-up between the WEC and IMSA could yet save both series from further contraction or, worse yet, total collapse:
As bad as this is, it’s even worse in the DTM, where Audi’s decision to withdraw from the series, following Aston Martin’s undignified exit last year, leaves BMW as the last manufacturer standing - and the series on the brink of collapse unless something drastic is done:
The situation in the Australian Supercars Championship is little better; naming rights sponsor Virgin Australia has entered voluntary administration, Network Ten’s free-to-air broadcast deal is about to end, Holden is on its way out for good after decades of participation, with no replacement in sight, and the cancellation of the Gold Coast and Newcastle rounds has forced the series to extend the calendar all the way into 2021:
Looking at the big picture, it is quite likely that cost-saving measures will be necessary at all levels of motorsport - and mergers between series are not yet out of the question:
Meanwhile, many series worldwide have turned to e-sports to fill the void left behind by the pandemic-induced hiatus - but no matter how exciting it is, it will never completely replace the real thing:
So what do you think? How will motorsport look like once the COVID-19 pandemic has ended? Please share your thoughts on this matter - I am eagerly anticipating the resumption of racing around the world as much as you are.