No one could have predicted escalation of Coronavirus threat – Brawn

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In the round-up: Ross Brawn defended Formula 1’s handling of the Australian Grand Prix, following its cancellation shortly before practice was due to start.

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@Fer-no65 gives us a statement update from near the Circuit de Catalunya:

I work pretty close to the track and today they told us not to go to work for two weeks. Can’t see the situation improving soon. Catalonia declared it’s confined from now on at least two weeks, too.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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50 comments on “No one could have predicted escalation of Coronavirus threat – Brawn”

  1. Nutter Frammer
    14th March 2020, 0:13

    Ross Brawn & Chase Carey are complete robots able to spout lies to fit their corporate narrative. BOTH FiA and Liberty knew enough about the high chance of the contagipus nature of the Chinese Corona-Virus because… CHINA IS NEXT DOOR TO AUSTRALIA ! Even their press conference was a PATHETIC FAILURE. Their body language told me everything I need to know: they’re losers and F1 will never bounce back under their charlatan management. We haven’t even dealt with Ferrari’s 2019 Engine Cheating Scandal or FiA’s recent Cheating Forgiveness Agreement with Ferrari in 2020. Despicable.

    1. Richard Whiteside
      14th March 2020, 14:45

      @Nutter Frammer

      Melbourne, Australia is 11.5 hours direct flight from Shanghai according to Quantas, China Eastern and Virgin Australia. Approx 6,500 kms and hardly next door.

      1. Nutter for sure.

  2. Says a lot that Brawn, not Carey, is making the big public statement regarding the fiasco

    1. Anyway, onwards and upwards and hopefully the season can pick up again soon. All the best to the team and the paddock especially those affected by the virus.

      Here’s to hoping some normality is returned soon.

      P.S Still longing for an edit button.

      1. Try writing your comments in a text editor and then C&P after you’ve checked it.

      2. Let’s be decisive and declare the season cancelled now, think of all the lives we will be saving.

        PS; I’ve been waiting for this weekend for 12 months, the only GP I get to see on live TV and the only practice and qualifying sessions I get to see at all, maybe 2021 will happen .

    2. Jonathan Parkin
      14th March 2020, 4:52

      Max Mosley talking about making a decision is pretty hilarious considering US GP 2005

      What is needed in case (god forbid) it happens again, is a system which allows swift decisions such as the cancelling of a grand prix or several if the need arises

  3. Dwight Yoakum
    14th March 2020, 0:43

    Ross Brawn doing his best Donald Trump impression.

    1. Yes… his quote:

      The escalation of cases, certainly in countries like Italy where it’s gone almost vertical in term of… no one I think could have expected or predicted that.

      Inexcusable excuse from a guy with a background in F1 engineering. Or perhaps exponential growth is something that is a foreign concept to Liberty.

      1. It is excusable. You can visualise the data here:

        In their defense and full fairness it did not appear exponential until recently. A linear trend line could have been drawn at multiple sections before recent events.

        1. The late professor Sid Watkins would have made the decision for them based on a quick but thorough study of data.

      2. exactly. not true at all, Ross. What we’ve seen is a baby boomer culture used to moving on masse upon evidence of statistics, with measures developed in the 1950s, be late to the realization this was getting out of hand. While newer generations, aware of the data analytics, saw the inevitable spread emerging almost a month ago.

    2. The oxford dictionary should add a new meaning to the word trump(notthesnookerplayerortheword), going the way of “luddites”. the worlds favourite way of saying you, personally, really dislike something.

    3. 10 months later…

  4. I have always liked Ross Brawn a lot, particularly in his current role, but that was a ridiculous thing to say because plenty scientists have predicted it. The problem is no one believes them, and when they say there’s the potential for billions to be infected and millions to die, they’re still not paying attention!

    The entire F1 season is going to be cancelled. There’s no chance any races will go ahead.

    I wish everyone the best!

    1. Ross is a smart guy, no question and Liberty has a large resource of well rounded people, but this is a communicable disease, transferred by not completely understood means through an unprepared population.
      These things ALWAYS expand exponentially. It is their nature unless there is a mechanism hindering it. In this case … not.
      While it may be slow getting going, once underway, even with a 15% increase in the daily rate of new infections (data for March 12), after 3 weeks, 1.15^21 = 18.9. Translation, start out with 1000 cases and you have 19,000 after 3 weeks. Of note, the daily growth factor is trending from 0.94 to 1.59.
      Something to keep the spirits up … the number of “cured and released” is about 110% of the number currently infected. New infections are running at around 8,000 a day. In China they have this down to (supposedly) single digits. That is enormously encouraging.

    2. You’re fear mongering. And Brawn and Liberty, and FIA and Australia and the World have all had this happen to us all at once in a very short time span. To blame or criticize Brawn or anybody for having had to react to something so complex is unfair. I think everyone is just trying to do their best. Ultimately, they did cancel the event, no different than millions of entities events globally, many of them a full day after F1’s decision. And the announcements continue. Are they being vilified for their ‘delay’ too? Shall we all just look at ourselves in shame? Isn’t it just a sad reality that has come down on all of us, people who have naturally had to resist giving up their livelihood or in so many cases face dire consequences non-virus related but greatly damaging nonetheless?

      Some 5000+ deaths and with the world putting itself on pause and doing a better and better job at screening and testing while they work on a vacccine, and observing the stabilization in China, the shutdown of travel, I don’t sense this becoming a catastrophe in terms of fatalities anywhere near the likes from cancer, car accidents, the regular flu, and the list goes on and on unfortunately. But the real financial catastrophe for so many more means the sooner we follow the rules and shake this, the better for all. We’ll do it. We already are. We’re following suit with what China did, and we’ll stabilize it and eradicate it as we have done to more harmful things in the past.

      1. @rekibsn Didn’t see your post until I submitted mine. I’m with you.

      2. I read somewhere that a vaccine at the absolute earliest is November/December; but more realistically much later.

    3. China does masks and self isolation all the time, sars, the original sars, went relatively off the radar, 10x less magnitude or apparent magnitude. The arguments are fine, but they are just throwing excuses. What they couldn’t foresee is that in f1 one domino topples the whole thing, almost but the race dying on the beach.
      Frankly in a month or 2 people might realise just how silly this whole thing has been.

  5. Bernie used to control F1 from the basement of his home. He had a small staff who did all the donkey work, not brilliantly, but it got done. Since LM took over F1, they moved to a huge office and employed a regiment of well paid people, but they’ve obviously forgotten to sign up a PR department. Doesn’t anyone at F1 HQ understand that half of their business is dealing with the public? Oh, we get loads of fancy videos and adverts, but no real communication.

    We didn’t hear a peep out of FOM in the week leading up the cancellation. Why not?

    I’ve also read that the second half of the drivers conference was blacked out when the drivers took questions from the audience. F1 said it was embargoed., more like censored. This F1, not the Magic Circle.

    1. I couldn’t even find the Drivers press conference on the F1 site which seems to be happen8ng more and more now.

      1. @dbradock – yeah, for a company with a media background, I find the F1 site to have taken consistent steps backward over time. It used to be that I could go there and quickly read up some info on regs (without looking at an arcane FIA document), interviews, etc. Today, I am assailed by far too many videos over there. Just another sign that I’m fast moving out of Liberty’s target demographic.

    2. I know you’re talking about public relations, but on a tangential note, I’m sure Bernie would have made a more decisive decision on Thursday than Liberty’s dithering. Now, whether he’d have made the right decision (for the people, not for CVC) is up for debate, and is not something I’d put money on, nor would I have wished for Bernie to be involved in the decision making.

      Likewise, I wasn’t a fan of his approach of tossing out verbal hand grenades to stir the pot, or releasing tidbits of information to specific journos – either to actually disseminate information, or to put pressure on a party thanks to the public eye.

      For example, it is quite likely that Wednesday or Thursday, he’d have let slip an unofficial statement to a favoured journo that the Bernie-era FOM were talking to lawyers about billing the Victoria govt. for FOM expenses accrued to date if they pulled the plug this late after their earlier assurances – not because such discussions were actually happening, but just to twist their arm into giving a go-ahead, maybe with restrictions (e.g. he wouldn’t care if the race ran behind closed doors because ticket sales went to the promoter, and CVC would have got their pound of flesh in terms of hosting fees upfront).

      There’s a lot that we can criticize Liberty for, but at the end of the day they behave like a partner and a corporate, and are therefore at least predictable. They’re even predictable in the excuses they trot out! And while they cannot issue a mea culpa for culpability reasons, they did put themselves in the firing line with that interview on YouTube (with Chase, Masi, and the two local promoter reps), taking some rather pointed questions (and yes, giving predictably corporate and safe responses).

      Their communications definitely needed to be better this week, but I personally believe it is wrong to say Bernie did it better.

      To the so-called blackout, an FOM staffer said that it was a change brought about not for censorship reasons, but to accede to a request made by print journos – they wanted to give them a shot at Q&As with the cameras off, so that print journos (like Dieter) wouldn’t get scooped on their own questions by rival TV journalists. I don’t know how true that reason for the change in format is, but it can be easily confirmed by someone like Dieter or Phil Branagan. It did sound a lot like censorship when I first heard about it, but the FOM explanation also made a lot of sense (I know Dieter has complained of the same in one of his earlier pieces).

      1. I can confirm the TV press conference ‘cut’ was due to a prior decision to broadcast only the first half and cut transmissions once questions were opened to the floor.

        The reason us simple: we ask the probing questions, only to read about them on some scraper site even before we’re back at our desks.

        1. Thank you, Dieter.

        2. Glad to know the reason. I read about it on a scraper site (PP), that claims not to be one, which explains why they were spitting feathers.

  6. 3 weeks ago when the freight was due to go – yep I’d agree with that.

    Beginning of this week there were already huge warning signs, if not for Melbourne directly then certainly for the next two races and Europe was showing signs of escalation, so it must have been reasonable to strongly suspect that cancellations/deferments were likely there too.

    Yes – I can understand how they love to start the season, but in reality what was the point of having 1 race and then nothing for at least the next month or so. Did they really think Bahrain without spectators was going ahead and that the teams and drivers would have wanted to go to that.

    It’s an unfortunate set of circumstances but to try and say “nobody expected this” so you can’t hold us to blame is a little thin, particularly in light of the action taken by MotoGP, Formula E and other significant motorsport organisations. Probably the best thing FOM could do at the moment for its credibility and share price is own their mistake and just assure the community at large that it’s being proactive about its calendar (or lack there of) for the remainder of the season.

    1. @dbradock – you’ve pretty much echoed my thoughts.

      I think it is partly a damage control measure as well that FOM moved quickly on cancelling the next few races. That way headlines would be dominated more with “F1 cancels first 4-6 rounds” than “F1 makes a hash of Aus GP”.

      1. I don’t think they have to ‘own their mistake’ because I don’t think they made a mistake. I think they had a tough decision to make and they made it, and if that came a few hours later than some like to criticize them for, then consider the millions of other entities in the world that hung in even longer before realizing the magnitude of the situation. This was so fluid, and compared to other sports so complicated given the money and advance time commitment that has to happen to put a F1 race on, especially a flyaway one, that I think when all is said and done F1 will be able to say they did their bit by cancelling Australia and the other initial races of the season until we see where this things goes globally.

        My general overall take on this is that it is splitting hairs to criticize F1, let alone any one individual like Carey, when the whole world is reacting to a very unique situation that has escalated so quickly. PGA golf for example gathered this week, as did the fans, and they played round one just two days ago on Thursday, and it was only after that they cancelled the tournament.

  7. Yeah they could have predicted it. The first time I heard of it, it was in a couple countries. 2 days later it’s in a dozen countries. A few days later it was on every continent. That’s pretty predictable.

  8. No one could have predicted it? We’ve been hearing for months about what’s coming. The expectation of spread has been well discussed recently. Either F1 isn’t doing their research or they think they know better than the experts.

    And yes, I get that there are a lot of hoops to jump through to cancel a race but Chase and Brawn seem to think they handled the situation well. I feel that reality is in short supply there. That or cash is king?

  9. A virtual-Australian GP on the same day the real life-Australian GP was supposed to take place, albeit at a different time of day than from late-afternoon and into the early evening.

    As for the Guardian-article: I’m positive Lewis hasn’t got it from being there. Otherwise, it would’ve been obvious already during the Thursday press conference as it’s now been ten days since he was there and given the incubation period of 5-6 days.

    1. Incubation time is 2-12 days; average 5 days.

    2. He could also be a carrier and pass it to others even if not affected himself.

  10. I managed to get some money back from Sky over this. They tried to argue that they only refund if there is a loss of service, but I said that there is a loss of service, as there is zero consent on the channel until at least the end of May.

    I got £6.35 for now but they said to call back when the next race happens and they will refund the appropriate amount for the period from today leading up to that point.

    1. Good Lord man, don’t bankrupt them.

      Seriously though, good to hear this. However, from what I’ve heard of the cost of Now TV… £198 / 22 races = £9 per race. So has the difference been contributed to HM’s taxman?

      1. But of course. As we know, Sky are very enthusiastic at contributing to HMRC.

  11. A little bit of contrition from Ross wouldn’t go amiss. Just say you got it wrong.

  12. The warning sign were in January!

  13. Several thousand epidemiologists predicted the escalation of covid19 but owing to the current fashion of pooh-poohing ‘so called experts’ by foolish politicians, their research was ignored in favour of continuing to make money, money, money.

    Well, try to buy your way out of this one mateys…

  14. I love this site, but giving voice to Mosley and (earlier in the week) Bernie makes me throw up in my mouth a bit.

    1. @ferrox-glideh – I’m kinda torn. I agree with you, but it’s also amusing to see people calling out Mosley’s hypocrisy when he oversaw the 2005 GP at Indy :)

  15. Covid-19 (for that is it’s name) stories have made news websites and sports websites unreadable now.

    For example – the first 20 stories on this website do not need to be read because the headline says it all such and such a race in such a series cancelled. Once you read the headlines you know what the rest of the story will be and you know the comments are going to be a mix of rancid mouth breathing tosh from a few with extreme views mixed with balanced (but infinitely repeated) rebuttals.

    The story has killed off all of the news.

    It is the same on other sites too – I am not admonishing RaceFans alone. The BBC and SKY (presumably happy to change the subject from Brexit) are in “project fear” mode – showing talking head after talking head with interviews from empty streets (pointless) and medical experts all saying the same things (again pointless) – it’s a good job that nothing else is happening in the world.

    The politicians are as bad – desperate for their interviews and the chance for a memorable soundbite, but offering again no substance at all. Newspapers are irrelevant and have been for a long time – so I can’t comment on the 14 page specials some here in the UK ran yesterday.

    Social media is broke too (but we knew that anyway). So many posts shouting about facts that have been heard from a friend of a friend who knows a “specialist”, rumours about so called cures and fixes for the virus, if it wasn’t for the humorous ones I wouldn’t bother at the moment. People blaming government for not telling them to refrain from congregating in large groups is simply too funny for words, these people have obviously had a common sense bypass – there seems a lot of it about at the moment.

    Covid -19 stories are easy and lazy to produce – any chance anyone knows some actual news?

  16. Ross Brawn: “No one could have predicted escalation of Coronavirus threat”. That is disingenuous. In fact many experts in the field did make that very prediction!

  17. There may not be a season this year. The idea that Monaco will go ahead is for the birds. The peak of infection is predicted to be in 10-14 weeks from now. That means things will get worse and worse until June (plus or minus), and then slowly get better. There won’t be any racing for another few months after that, at least.

  18. Situation here in USA evolved/accelerated very rapidly Wednesday nite. Presidential address/NBA games cancellation/T. Hanks diagnosis changed all focus within 2 hours. Still, many of these events have tremendous momentum to move forward. Stopping/changing course is like trying to steer the Titanic away from a close iceberg. Takes a while. Unfortunate timing.

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