Unable to parade their sponsors in front of televised audiences, Formula 1 teams are losing money hand over fist. Some smaller F1 teams’ finances have gotten so shaky that the sport’s organizers are prepared to recommence racing as soon as July, in Austria as opposed to Australia, and to limit the spread of COVID-19, completely without spectators. Only the teams themselves (and possibly members of the media) will be allowed at the circuit, and even they will be subject to strict distancing rules—and wellness checks every two days.
“Everybody will be tested, and will have clearance before they can go into the paddock, and then every two days, they’ll be tested whilst in the paddock” said F1’s managing director for motorsports, Ross Brawn, on a SkySports F1 broadcast transcribed by Autosport.
“That will be with an authorised authority, and we’ll keep that system, certainly for all the European races, we’ll be using all the same facilities to conduct that testing. We can ensure that everybody is tested within that environment and tested regularly.”
Team personnel will also be completely barred from fraternizing with competitors according to Brawn, who says the measure will limit the potential spread of COVID-19 should testing confirm cases in the paddock.
“We’ll have restrictions on how people can move around in the paddock,” Brawn continued. “We cannot socially distance within a team, you can’t. So we have to create an environment within itself, that is effectively a small bubble of isolation. The teams will stay within their own groups. They won’t mingle with other teams. They’ll stay at their own hotels. There’s no motorhomes going to be there. We’ll make sure that respects all the requirements.”
Brawn hasn’t yet spoken on how F1 will handle podium ceremonies, which have always involved drivers and representatives from at least two teams in close proximity. Given that F1 has so far been willing to trade semblances of normalcy to guarantee its continued existence, it seems likely that the post-race procession as we know it will also have to be different for as long as the threat of COVID-19 looms large.
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