By Alan Baldwin
LONDON (Reuters) - Formula Two team owner Trevor Carlin fully supports plans to start the Formula One season with back-to-back races in Austria followed by a closed-doors double at Britain's Silverstone circuit.
The sport hopes to get the delayed championship rolling in July, subject to government permission, under controlled conditions and without any spectators due to COVID-19 restrictions.
"What I heard is this Red Bull Ring double-header, Silverstone double-header plan and they would try to incorporate F2 and F3 into that," Carlin told Reuters.
"I think it’s a great idea if its achievable. That’s the bottom line. Hopefully it is," added the Briton, whose teams also compete in Formula Three and the U.S. IndyCar series.
The plan is for 15-18 F1 races between July and December, pandemic permitting.
Carlin pointed out that in a normal year his IndyCar team did eight events in 10 weekends on short ovals, super speedways, road courses and street courses with chassis and aerodynamic changes.
"If everyone’s just had two months off they should be fresh and raring to go," said Carlin, whose past racers include F1 champions Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg as well as Lando Norris, Carlos Sainz and Daniel Ricciardo.
"When people are moaning about three (race weekends) on the trot, I don’t get it."
Formula Two already races twice on a grand prix weekend with teams restricted to 12 people plus drivers and Carlin contrasted that to the number the top F1 teams say they would require.
"They are saying we could get it down to 80, just essential staff. I’m thinking 80 people? I can’t see for the life of me why you’d need more than 50," said the 57-year-old.
No spectators is also no big deal for F2, where most of the exposure comes from television anyway.
"The biggest disappointment would be for the mums and dads who want to be with their sons and daughters at the races. But they’ll understand," said Carlin.
"At the end of the day F3 and F2 are journey championships, championships you need to do to get to the end goal which is Formula One. So from a sponsors’ point of view, it’s not quite so crucial."
More of a blow is the absence of Monaco, the showcase race cancelled for the first time since 1954.
"That is the one event the sponsors do really want to go to. They are hanging about on the yachts and what have you, that’s where all the business is done. It pretty much bankrolls the whole season almost, that race," said Carlin.
Formula Two and Three are owned by Formula One's commercial rights holder Liberty Media and teams get nothing for participating beyond prize money with 200,000 euros (174,157.39 pounds) for the winners.
Engines, tyres, fuel and even the catering are provided while teams are funded by sponsors and drivers.
Carlin's F2 lineup consists of Red Bull junior drivers Jehan Daruvala, who is currently in India, and Japanese Yuki Tsunoda.
Other teams are from Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, France and the Czech Republic but Carlin said the logistics should be manageable by July.
"You’ve got international hauliers driving all over Europe in trucks currently, haven’t you? So what’s the difference? You’ve got another 11 race transporters on the road. I don’t really see it as a big issue, myself," he said.
"The drivers can sleep in the cabs."
The Red Bull Ring also has a nearby airport where charter flights can land.
The Briton has furloughed British-based staff and mitigated costs where possible to keep overheads down.
"If it goes on for another six months or a year, then we’ll be in trouble. But if it’s only another two or three months and people want to race, we’re here ready to go," he said.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)