Jul.4 (GMM) At least for the next eight races, Formula 1 will stick with what Carlos Sainz described in Austria as a “very aggressive new normal”.
The entire Formula 1, Formula 3 and Formula 3 circus at the Red Bull Ring is limited to just 2000 people, with race director Michael Masi confirming that 57 separate ‘bubbles’ and “several hundred sub-groups” are keeping the coronavirus risk down.
Mercedes reserve Stoffel Vandoorne is in the region, but is confined to his hotel room with two laptops.
“I cannot even talk to our Formula 2 and Formula 3 drivers,” said Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko.
Toto Wolff commented: “All this setup seems very weird in a country where there are no cases anymore, or at least around here.”
Indeed, movement is tightly controlled, social distancing enforced, and the wearing of masks mandatory.
“To the outside world it looks like an overreaction, especially in countries where there is already a lot of relaxation in normal life,” Masi admitted.
“But we have a responsibility. We want to show the outside world that we act according to the highest safety standards. If we didn’t and something happened, we would have fingers pointed at us.
“Austria is in a good position but it’s not the same in Britain. We want a procedure that works everywhere. It would make no sense to readjust it every week,” the FIA official added.
Masi said he is confident that the setup could easily manage a coronavirus infection, unlike in Australia where the entire event was called off.
“The situation in Melbourne caught us off-guard,” he admitted. “Now we have processes that can intercept positive cases in good time.
The strange ‘corona era’ in Formula 1 looks set to remain in place at least for the first eight confirmed European races.
“Of course we want the fans back in the stands as soon as possible, but I do not expect any major changes in our process,” said Masi.
“We want to be consistent for all the upcoming events and not change it depending on the situation in the respective country.”