Jack Aitken, Renault, Bahrain International Circuit

F1 season could start behind closed doors, Brawn admits

2020 F1 season

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The 2020 F1 season could begin with an event held in Europe ‘behind closed doors’ without any fans, according to motorsport director Ross Brawn.

The championship has cancelled or postponed its first nine races of the season due to the pandemic. Other sports are known to be looking at whether they can resume their disrupted championships by holding events without spectators. Brawn admitted F1 is considering the same in an interview with Sky.

“Obviously travel for the teams and travel for everyone involved is going to be one of the big issues,” he said. “You could argue once we get there we become fairly self-contained.

“Our view is probably a European event would be favourable and that could even be a closed event. We’d have a very closed environment, teams come in on charters [flights], we channel them into the circuit, we make sure everyone’s tested clear, there’s no risk going on and we’d have a race without spectators. That’s not great but it’s better than no race at all.”

Lance Stroll, Racing Point, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020
Will F1 have to ban fans from races to get its 2020 season started?
F1 should explore the possibility of racing as soon as possible, even if it means doing so without spectators, to provide entertainment to its global fan base, said Brawn.

“We have to remember there’s millions of people who follow the sport sat a home isolating. To be able to put on a sport, keep the sport alive and entertain people would be a huge bonus in this crisis we have.

“But we can’t put anyone at risk. We’re looking at the organisational structure that would give us the earliest start. But also the ability to maintain that start. There’s no point having a start then stopping again for a while and having another start.

“But I think it’s most likely to be in Europe and it’s conceivable that it could be a closed event.”

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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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25 comments on “F1 season could start behind closed doors, Brawn admits”

  1. So just like
    another middle eastern GP then!

  2. If somehow FOM could stream these closed-door races on Youtube, Twitch and other social network platforms, it could help in viewership, exposure and maybe get some advertisers onboard due to increased reach. But I doubt broadcasters would even allow it. Nonetheless it would be a good exercise.

  3. Better late than never, but as Brawn has noted there are things that have to be organised and agreed by both the host country and the teams. Get your skates on Ross.

  4. I’m okay with this. Better than nothing.

    1. I think there should be a limit on how many team members are allowed to attend the race aswell. That was the big problem with Bahrain so if that could be sorted we should be ok.

  5. Keeping things isolated will be a huge task, what with members from different teams still using the same hotels as the rest. The Podium Ceremony may need altering too perhaps? Will be interesting to see how it is safely executed.

    I’d love for it to start. It’d be great for the livelihoods of teams and their members. Sponsors will be happier, but they also need to have the funds available to transfer to the teams when it resumes again. Governments will need to arrange exceptions for their travel restrictions. At least logistic companies aren’t locked down in most places.

    Fingers crossed it can all get sorted out.

    1. The Podium Ceremony may need altering too perhaps?

      @scottie – replace champagne with sanitizer and we’re good to go ;)

      1. The cost would be about the same.

  6. Given that far more popular local sports like the EPL, AFL are currently unable to continue at the moment, I find it hard to imagine that F1, which involves larger numbers and international travel, will be treated any differently.

    All industries are pretty much on their knees and it’s going to take time, and a long time at that before sports of any kind become “important” to most Governments in terms of support or making special allowances.

    1. @dbradcock, You can’t play football and maintain social-distancing, but F1 drivers have to keep at least 2 metres distance and are fully covered and masked.

      1. @hohum social distancing pit stop with only five crew would be interesting

        1. Tweak the rules … something like “one person per wheel”. Doesn’t Indycar do something like that?

        2. Pitcrew are also fully covered so adding a mask and they are fine.

        3. @ruliemaulana, Yep, but they could run hard tyres and drop the mandatory pit stop, possibly even shorten the races to 250-280 km, or as above. Any racing has to be better than no racing.

  7. Liberty’s chief immunologist and PR meister seems to have a great sense of what’s possible in F1 – for the 2022 season.

    1. Liberty’s chief immunologist and PR meister – Love it @jimmi-cynic wonder of he’s related to the smartest man in the world

  8. Duncan Snowden
    9th April 2020, 1:01

    Major League Baseball is considering a “single location” plan, in which the entire season would be played behind closed doors at stadiums in Phoenix, Arizona, with everyone involved quarantined for the duration (and, I would assume, isolated for a couple of weeks beforehand, to ensure that none of them was infected to begin with).

    That’s a lot of people, and it seems highly unlikely to me that they could pull something like this off. However I can’t help wondering if a motorsport series could do something similar. To be fair, F1 itself would face massive logistical problems with the sheer size of the teams, but for a smaller-scale series it seems tantalizingly close to feasibility. Could the entire British F3 field be locked inside Silverstone, racing on various different layouts at the weekend, for example? Now that I come to type it out, it doesn’t actually sound as crazy as the baseball proposal…

    1. Baseball diamonds are closer to each other than race tracks. It seems more feasible to me to go to one place and play your 162 games. I would watch that as 81 games of my team are on the same diamond every year. F1 is boring enough as it is to run all your races on 1 track. Do the teams stay quarantined during the weeks off? With baseball you play 6 days a week for 6 months. How many races do you run. 16 races at Silverstone?

      1. Duncan Snowden
        9th April 2020, 12:56

        Oh yes, I know all that. I’m not saying it’s a great idea, but it’s maybe not as crazy as it initially sounds. Certainly, my suggestion of quarantining a particular series – made late last night :) – might be unworkable (and no, I wasn’t thinking of 16 races; one reason I suggested British F3 is that it only has 8 rounds, and two of them are at Silverstone already), but you could ask for volunteers to lock themselves away for a few weeks and perhaps run an ad-hoc series with a few different cars. We’re seeing more and more real drivers coming into simracing during this, so I don’t think getting some drivers and mechanics to set up camp at Silverstone for some real-life racing would be out of the question.

        I suggested Silverstone because it has a number of layouts (and more, “unofficial” ones might be possible: Becketts could be added to the National circuit by using the International circuit’s link section, for example, and Bridge/Priory might be pressed into service at a pinch), and it has extensive facilities; setting up temporary accomodation within its grounds wouldn’t be too hard. It’s true that baseball operates (almost) every day during the summer, whereas you’d (probably) only be racing at weekends, but Silverstone’s a big place, and they could certainly have practice days during the week.

        I don’t deny it’s a crazy idea. But I don’t think it’s completely crazy.

  9. absolutely correct. we have to try something before just saying shut everything down for years. as long as it can be contained and like he said, testing is key. if they can manage that, im all for it.

    lots of jobs at stake for anyone to say shut everything down for a year. it may be “just a sport”, but guess what, even the factories, tracks, F1 design offices etc have a ton of low paying janitors, maintenance staff that need work. not all are millionaires just because they are associated with its not for nothing.

    may be by June, its time to get going. atleast start crawling, to see what happens.

  10. But we can’t put anyone at risk. We’re looking at the organisational structure that would give us the earliest start. But also the ability to maintain that start. There’s no point having a start then stopping again for a while and having another start….But I think it’s most likely to be in Europe and it’s conceivable that it could be a closed event.”

    I’ve never been to an F1 Grand Prix, so maybe attending falls into one of the top ten things you should do at least once in your life, but even if that was so, I just can’t understand why the hesitancy about having a closed event. Currently there are two options: 1) You don’t race at all; or 2) you race on a closed circuit. Only by being completely self-contained will F1 be able to do race after race after race without anyone being infected.
    In regards to starting, then stopping, then starting again, I agree with Ross, that once the season starts we want it to keep going, so what is the plan for when someone is found to be infected? The current plan seems to be to stop, pack up, go home, and then wait for things to get better. F1 needs a better plan than that.
    From the way Dieter (@dieterrencken) had written earlier, it sounds as though one thought is a “sandbox” system, so each person in a team only associates with a small number of other people within each team, so if someone is found to be infected then everyone within that sandbox can be isolated and the rest of the team can continue to function.

  11. As long as everyone over 70 and frail are under lockdown and being cared for, the world needs to reopen now.

    Its becoming clearer by the day that 99% of those at risk are those mentioned above.

    The way most countries have dealt with this has been a massive overaction based on early ‘advisor’ models. Some scientists are now even saying they doubt its anywhere near as contagious as first thought, and the numbers again would back this up.

    The long term damage to everything and everyone other than the 0.6% of people who will die from this, and who were probably due to die from one or more existing health conditions (the common flu would have probably finished them off too) is the real disaster here.

    1. “some scientists” what kind ? maybe meteorologists, give them a chance to get even by pontificating on other fields they are totally unqualified in.

    2. Charles, even if you want to argue on what seems like a economics focussed argument, your argument comes across as being very narrowly focussed.

      Even if a younger person might not necessarily die from the disease if they receive prompt medical attention, that individual will tie up medical resources whilst they are receiving their treatment. Whilst some have focussed on ventilator production, that is not the full story – because an ICU ventilator often requires multiple operatives in order to maintain that patient (a figure often mentioned is around four nurses per patient), meaning that resources that might be available within the medical system for patients with other conditions are now being tied up looking after that patient with covid-19.

      Furthermore, asides from the questions of the limited capacity of the medical system, particularly intensive care units, there are the wider economic impacts that would occur if covid-19 were allowed to spread unchecked. Even if you argue that most individuals might only have mild to moderate symptoms, those symptoms are still likely to leave a person unable to work for an extended period of time.

      In that situation, you could start seeing productivity and the proportion of the workforce which is actually capable of undertaking anything productive to start dropping off quite quickly, reaching a point where you start significantly curtailing the ability of a company to function. If large numbers of companies were suddenly finding a significant chunk of their workforce was off sick and unable to work, that is going to have a rapid detrimental economic impact.

      1. All wrong. This is being massively inflated to suit an agenda of crashing the economy and bringing laws to control.

        It is just a flu, and they are even trying to manipulate deaths by lumping all that die from underlying issues who might have had a sniff of covid to be reported as such.

        Look outside the main stream media for the real news and actual science.

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