By taking its bet to open the 2020 season in July with three consecutive Grands Prix, including two on the same circuit in Austria, Formula 1 has shown that the protocols put in place are solid. European events are currently taking place behind closed doors and in accordance with draconian health rules to limit the risks in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The first assessment is good and the discipline is delighted to have known how to set itself up as an example for other categories, while warning that it is absolutely not allowed to give in at the slightest relaxation.
The paddock evolves within a “biosphere” where the wearing of a mask, physical distancing, a massive testing policy, personnel restrictions or even the respect of social bubbles as well as the use of a tracking application apply. . To date, two positive cases for the new coronavirus have been detected among the thousands of tests carried out each week, and their impact has not been felt thanks to the work of anticipation upstream.
“As a sport and as an industry, we should be very proud of what we have achieved in these first three Grands Prix”, underlines Michael Masi, F1 race director of the FIA. “If we consider the time that we obviously had collectively, in particular between the FIA and F1, to develop the plan for the return to competition, the methods and the protocols, the support of everyone in the pitlane, journalists and side series was fantastic. Yes it was a learning process for all of us. There were some minor tweaks along the way but overall we were on point with the process and the structure. I’m proud of what we’ve done. “
Masi readily admits, the two positive cases detected on the sidelines of the Hungarian Grand Prix were a reminder that zero risk did not exist. At the same time, they also allowed F1 to demonstrate that it was in a position to react so that such a situation does not jeopardize a weekend, unlike what happened during the Grand Prix. from Australia last March.
“There is definitely a level of confidence”, Masi estimates. “I think you shouldn’t be complacent, this is probably the most important. Having organized the first three Grands Prix with only two cases [positifs], but actually outside the paddock, so we must all be aware that COVID-19 is very present around us, and all over the world. So we can’t go wrong and get to Silverstone believing ourselves to be invincible. The only thing I can say is that my biggest fear is that people will become complacent. We have to stick to the process that we have developed. “