Racing behind closed doors won’t save season – Ecclestone

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In the round-up: Bernie Ecclestone doubts Formula 1 will be able to rescue its season by holding races behind closed doors.

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Will fans still be interested in watching sport once the lockdowns are over?

I appreciate that calendar congestion is a practical problem to resolve. I just can’t see engagement with a truncated season being high.

After months of being forced to stay inside, following the end of quarantine, why would I voluntarily want to stay inside and spend every weekend watching a full schedule of motorsport, when I could go outside and make the most of the regained freedom?
George O’Donnell (@Georgeod)

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  • 36 comments on “Racing behind closed doors won’t save season – Ecclestone”

    1. If we are at a point were countries are lifting restrictions on foreign travel, than more then likely they have also lifted restrictions on large gatherings. There should be no reason as to why races have to be held behind closed doors.

      1. That is exactly the problem, no country is going to rush to open up to foreign travellers. I think we all will be extremely lucky if everything is back to normal (pre Covid-19) worldwide in time for the 2021 Australian GP.

      2. @dragon86 The problem with lifting restrictions fully is that the risk of starting a second outbreak will be very high until a vaccine is developed & widely available. And the problem with a second wave of infections too soon after the first will be that health services around the world will have already been pushed to breaking point which could mean a secondary outbreak been worse than the first.

        There is already some evidence from China hinting at an impending secondary wave given how they are again instructing residents to stay indoors amid reports of new cases of infections in areas that had been clear for several weeks.

        Speaking some some people i know who are somewhat knowledgeable about medical things they have been saying for a few weeks already that anyone who thinks things will be back to something close to normal in the next 6 months don’t fully appreciate just how serious the current situation is or how bad it’s more than likely going to get towards the end of the year when Covid-19 is almost certainly going to return in the Winter months where health services will be overwhelmed not just by that but also the more traditional winter month illnesses.

        While hopeful it’s sooner based on things i’ve been told & heard experts on TV & stuff say, I will honestly be surprised if the world is back to anything close to resembling normal until well into 2021.

        1. Also one final point.

          Different countries & regions are going to be at different phases of not just the initial outbreak but also recovery & some may see a secondary outbreak while other’s don’t depending on how each country handles things.

          Just because one country starts lifting restrictions doesn’t mean others will & that will more than likely be where things get difficult, Especially in terms of travel restrictions because a country that feels it’s past the worst of the Covid-19 outbreak & therefore happy to allow an F1 race to take place (With or without a crowd) won’t want to risk allowing entry to people from countries that are still seeing cases of new infections.

          1. William Jones
            5th April 2020, 11:28

            I think this is far more likely than the seasonal theory in your first post. We know for sure that the virus is spreading just as rapidly in countires in their Summer and Autumn as those in Spring and in countries on the Equater too. Environmental temperature does not seem to affect it in the way it affects Rhino and Influenza virus strains, and the latest information I’ve been hearing from professionals is to not rely on the Summer to slow it, don’t make plans for the Summer etc.

        2. GT Racer, perspective is all wrong: “…also the more traditional winter month illnesses.” ? What do you think this particular coronavirus is exactly? An alien superbug? A tiny wee beastie that bounces between people like a mini flea? It’s a flu. Traditional like all the others that come and go. It’s just a different strain that we have not yet developed a “traditional” vaccine for to protect the usual vulnerable in advance. Which includes myself I might add.
          F1 should demonstrate its maturity and get ahead of the game and use its considerable resources to mount whatever racing it can to retain and even increase its fan base while other sports are still in pause mode.

        3. @gt-racer I realize countries won’t lift restrictions until tis safe to do so, whether that takes 2 months or the rest of the year. I just feel like if we ever get to a point where tracks an host races again, then it shouldn’t be too much of an issue to get fans there as well. It’s more than likely that a country will allow its citizens to move around first before they let foreigners into the country. So again, if a country is to a point of lifting travel restrictions, then theoretically restrictions on large gatherings been lifted.

        4. @dragon86 @hohum @gt-racer The one country in which racing at any point this year could be the safest to do, which based on what I’ve read is the country that has managed to handle this epidemic the best or survived it relatively well despite its closeness to China in geography as well as the number of people within a certain age-group or generation, and that is Japan.

          1. @jerejj Japan has not been hit that badly thus far although are unfortunately likely on the verge of getting hit really hard as the number of cases in Tokyo has been increasing at 100+ a day over the past week with the number of infected already topping 1,000 in Tokyo alone.

            Japan is only now starting to seriously look at the sort of social distancing & non essential travel that many European countries have been encouraging/enforcing for weeks already. It’s almost certain that a state of emergency will be declared sometimes in the next week.

            1. GtisBetter (@)
              5th April 2020, 16:07

              I was about to say the same. Just now are they warning for a shortage of IC beds and equipment and there seem to be an increase in infections. The rest of the world have ordered all these things already and there was a shortage before that. They could be just at the start of it all.

            2. @stefmeister ”Japan is only now starting to seriously look at the sort of social distancing & non essential travel”
              – Japan has traditionally been all about social distancing, though, as well as, having a high level of cleanliness in general. Long before this COVID-19 outbreak, but what I’ve read doesn’t (at least not directly) imply that measures towards social distancing, etc., wouldn’t have been done earlier than only now.

      3. @dragon86 For “large” by the definition of F1, I agree. The 6000 or so people needed to run F1 behind closed doors is, so far as I know, above every nation’s definition of a mass event already. From a legal standpoint, running behind closed doors would be identical to running with open doors, and if one is too much of a risk, the other will be. It will not be able to get going until its points of origin (basically UK, Italy, France and Switzerland) and destination all have COVID-19 under some sort of control. While worldwide normality is not compulsory, having at least 4 nations (and in many cases 5) beyond the worst of it will be essential. If it weren’t for the UK being so slow to put in measures, the curves suggest a behind-closed-doors event could have been run successfully in late May (the UK’s curve is still rising and is now steeper than Italy’s got, so predicting when it will be ready to proceed is impossible).

        Smaller events (such as national series and some of the smaller international ones) are likely to be below the threshold in at least some places, will be able to get going beforehand and might be able to consider the behind-closed-doors approach. I say “might” because it will depend on how reliant they are on the gate vs. other forms of income.

        @g-macz COVID-19 is not a traditional bug of any kind. It’s a novel virus and the infrastructure to handle it has not yet been developed.

        @stefmeister Sounds like Japan might have been hit by a super-spreader cluster (much like Italy had a super-spreader in a key hospital who accidentally infected much of a hospital wing that accelerated its descent into IC shortages. Or France, which had a massive cluster from a convention where nobody was symptomatic before it dispersed… …by which point about 40 of them had it and had gone all over the nation). This is one reason F1 and other mass events won’t be able to go ahead for a while – fear of another such incident (justified or not) will make healthy nations reluctant to welcome mass gatherings even after smaller groupings have been successfully restored.

    2. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
      5th April 2020, 0:08

      Obviously see when the world returns to normal but if the season feels too diminished then just run some end of season non championship races. I’m not particularly interested in a mini championship or a extended super series and novelties like that. Just call it what it is and start again next season.

      1. I’m not particularly interested in a mini championship

        That begs the question: what is mini?
        They need at least 8 races for a formal championship.
        In the past we had full championships with less races.

        I think Ecclestone is still stoking.

        1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
          5th April 2020, 9:20

          @coldfly obviously we don’t know what it will be yet but even if they get the 8 races it wouldn’t feel like a proper championship ans Surely would feel diminished for the victor. To me 12 feels more like a minimum.

          1. 8 races it wouldn’t feel like a proper championship ans Surely would feel diminished for the victor.

            A bit harsh on Fangio (Farina, Ascari, and P. Hill), @rdotquestionmark ;)

            1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
              5th April 2020, 19:14

              @coldfly Haha they’re not around to get insulted.

              Obviously a very different sport back then, with different point systems and the championship a fairly new concept.

      2. @rdotquestionmark The less championship happens this year, the more problems next year.

        2020 will feel like a comparatively short championship whatever happens, but F1 is financially dependent on salvaging whatever is reasonably possible.

        1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
          6th April 2020, 9:48

          The whole world is financially dependent on minimising the impact of COVID-19 @alianora-la-canta but the truth is it’s going to be what it’s going to be.

    3. To Ecclestone: For once I agree. Shelve this year.

    4. Despite the merit of any kind of racing in 2020 I’m concerned about the diluted prestige of a reduced or truncated season for the eventual championship winner. Particularly Lewis as he could end his F1 career level or 1 title ahead of Schumacher and we find that in the future he is deprived of the authenticity of his achievements due to the oddball 2020 season.
      Doubters will pick away at the results…not the same pressure on without a crowd…weather was different in X location etc. Just off the top of my head, sure there would be more.

      1. @g-macz If there is anyone who will be immune by any sort of diluted prestige its Lewis Hamilton. He has already broken some of Schumachers records (poles) and on track to break some more (wins). A truncated championship won’t change anything for him.

    5. Graham Dwyer
      5th April 2020, 7:54

      Without lock-downs lifted in Italy there will be no races anyway and that`s going to be quite some time.

      1. @Graham Dwyer The current semi-lockdown in the UK is likely to be the deciding factor here (UK is behind Italy on the COVID-19 curve), and last I heard, the earliest it could be lifted was mid-June.

        1. Graham Dwyer
          7th April 2020, 8:20

          @alianora-la-canta with regards to lock-downs, I would say the UK and Italy are now very close on the curve and it is highly possible that the UK will relax there lock-down before Italy. Emillia-Romagna,Lombardy and Modena are the epi-centre for the virus in Europe. As this is home to Ferrari,Pirelli and Toro Rosso it would be impossible to hold races until the santions are lifted. I think it`s safe to say that racing will not return before August at the earliest.

    6. Simply straight answer to the question of the Racefans.net YY-video: No, no way to do the opposite direction in Silverstone. There simply isn’t enough run-off to suffice for the higher approach-speeds achieved running the other way round, especially at Aintree and The Loop, but also Copse and a few others.

      1. @jerejj – they manage pretty well in Monaco or even Singapore. It’s a nonsense idea anyway, just fanciful thinking at a time of plenty of time for fanciful thinking.

        1. @g-macz Monaco and Singapore have considerably lower speeds than Silverstone, though, so not an apples-to-apples comparison.

      2. William Jones
        5th April 2020, 11:33

        If there are areas of Silverstone where there is not enough run-off in reverse, would it be possible to make the run-off that is there enough by using temporary chicanes to slow the cars down at those points?

        1. @William Jones Chicanes would be pointless and gimmicky, LOL.

          1. William Jones
            5th April 2020, 15:56

            The point would be to make the track safe, so no, not pointless. Reverse races are gimmicky anyway, why not just hold the same race twice on the same layout apart from to make a new track without the need for travel, but if it’s seriously being discussed, then I don’t think can assume the answer based on safety because reverse tracks can be made safe.

            Please try not to mistake my pointing out a solution for a problem as advocation for the idea. I just am blessed with a brain that can make the impossible possible.

            1. @William Jones Gimmicky indeed. As for the ”reverse tracks can be made safe” part: Easier said than done. The run-off areas can’t be made larger due to the surroundings, such as service roads, grandstands, and other infrastructure, etc. Yes, a temporary chicane before Aintree and The Loop might work, but better not to resort to such gimmickry.
              @Jamie B – True those.

      3. It was a good video, but it doesn’t mention that the kerbs are designed to be driven over in one direction. They are concrete, built into the ground; changing them would be an expensive and time consuming task.

        Silverstone has two licensed grade 2 configurations, it would be much more viable to bring one of these up to grade 1

    7. Hats off to 89 year old stallion Bernie.
      While the Prancing Horse faltered, Bernie met the challenge to begat a son and heir head on. He’s right of course. 2020 is over for F1.

    8. @dragon86 I’m personally on the same page Corey. My teeth are long but I’ve never had so much admiration for any sportsman or woman as I have for LH. I can hardly fault him, count mbe a handful of errors in 13 years and his courage etc etc etc.
      Quite apart from the background mountains he’s had to climb…
      And he gave me and my son (+ Union Jack) a thumbs up from a 100m below at Puohon double left b4 the 2011 GP. Top man.

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