17 ways motor sport is helping to fight the pandemic

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A global emergency has brought motor racing to a standstill. Teams have been shuttered, staff sent home with reduced pay, and senior staff and drivers forfeiting chunks of their salaries.

But as the pandemic spreads the motor sport community has stepped up to offer their services in any way possible.

F1 teams are building breathing aids, drivers are providing equipment and raising donations, and facilities are being used to help process patients and tests. Here’s how the motorsport world has joined the fight against the pandemic.

Project Pitlane

As RaceFans revealed last month, Formula 1 teams have been quick to lend their technological expertise to improving survival rates.

A coalition of UK-based F1 teams have banded together to help manufacture respiratory devices. The pandemic has put unprecedented demand on medical equipment which provide breathing assistance.

Seven teams are already helping to produce 1,000 continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) units per day to help meet the current high demands. On Monday the British government confirmed F1 teams have contributed to the production of over 20,000 devices. Other companies involved in the production effort include Bandbury-based team Prodrive.

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Race For the World

Race for the World has raised $35,000 so far
Half-a-dozen Formula 1 drivers plus competitors from other championships have joined together to put on a six-race series on F1 2019 to raise money for the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 Solidarity Relief Fund. They’ve set themselves a target of raising $100,000, and are already past one-third of the way there.

The first race saw Alexander Albon beat a field including Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris, George Russell, Antonio Giovinazzi and Nicholas Latifi. Leclerc’s younger brother Arthur won race two. The second event takes place this evening.

Dallara

The Italian chassis manufacturer has joined the fight by supplying PPE and a non-invasive ventilators to local hospitals in need. They have also made the design and instructions available to other manufacturers so that they can join in the fight as well.

JOTA Sport

Kent-based World Endurance Championship team JOTA Sport has begun 3D-printing face masks for the National Health Service. The team say it takes only 45 minutes to print and 20 seconds to fully assemble the devices.

Volkswagen Motorsport

Volkswagen are also turning their 3D printers to help produce medical kit at its factories in Hannover, Wolfsburg and Ingolstadt. These were initially supplied to Spain, one of the countries which was most severely hit by the pandemic.

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Brembo

Italian brakes manufacturer Brembo donated €1,000,000 to three Italian health institutions conducting research into the pandemic. “This shared effort could very soon produce an effective means to tackle the virus, significantly reducing the number of patients requiring hospital treatment,” it said.

Pirelli

The manufacturer of tyres for Formula 1 and many other championships is based in Italy, one of the countries which has been hit hardest by the pandemic. Pirelli has cancelled the production of its annual calendar for only the second time in its history and used the money saved from that and raised by its staff to donate over €1,000,000 to help fund efforts to fight the virus.

Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez, Racing Point, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020
Perez’s foundation is supplying food parcels
The Racing Point driver runs a foundation which has set a target of supplying one million parcels. Perez himself has paid for the first thousand.

Frederic Habsburg

Austrian DTM driver Frederic Habsburg has been called into military duty and is helping efforts to keep food stocked in his home country.

Alexander Sims

The BMW Formula E driver is working alongside some of his team members to collect protective equipment for the NHS during this global shortage. Sims has reached out to other British motor sport figures in an effort to compile as many supplies as possible.

Lando Norris

McLaren was struck by the virus during F1’s aborted race weekend in Melbourne. One of its team members caught the virus and had to be isolated along with more than a dozen others. All subsequently recovered.

The team’s driver Lando Norris has been highly active on streaming service Twitch during his isolation, streaming F1 2019, iRacing, and Rocket League while raising money for the Covid-19 Solidarity Fund.

Norris promised to shave his head if his followers raised more than $10,000. They cheerfully obliged, sending $12,000 his way, and he duly wielded the clippers on another live stream:

Ron Dennis

The former McLaren team boss has pledged to donate 1,000,000 meals over the next three months to NHS workers through his charity DreamChasing.

Fernando Alonso

Former F1 driver Fernando Alonso announced plans to donate 4,000 sets of personal protective equipment and 300,000 masks through his partnership with UNICEF.

Formula E

Formula E is also working with UNICEF to help protect children from the consequences of the pandemic. “Through their much-needed donation, we are able to support children and families across the world by activities including supplying medical equipment and hygiene kits, developing learning resources, delivering prevention campaigns and tackling misinformation,” said UNICEF UK’s deputy executive director for partnerships and philanthropy Sarah Ward.

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NASCAR

In America, NASCAR’s research and development centre has been temporarily re-purposed for medical assistance and manufacturing face shields. The Roush Fenway team has also created a ‘Transport Box’ which aims to keep medical personnel safe from their patients in their hospital rooms.

Meanwhile the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina is being used as a site for Covid-19 testing.

RACC headquarters

The Reial Automobil Club de Catalunya opened their headquarters in Barcelona to medical personnel as hospitals struggle to find rooms for the overwhelming number of patients. The 16,000 square meter facility features a heliport and is in close proximity with other hospitals.

Rally Estonia

Volunteers from the rally have been helping to transport samples from potential sufferers to a laboratory for testing.

“The Estonian government has helped us to organise big international events and now it’s our turn to help,” said event organiser Tarmo Hobe. “As we have an organisation which has worked together for many years and people willing to help we offered that our team can be helpful in fight.”

Over to you

Are you aware of any other ways people involved in motorsport have helped fight the pandemic? Please share them in the comments.

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Author information

Josh Holland
USA-based Josh joined the RaceFans team in 2018. Josh helps produce our Formula 1 race weekend coverage, assists with our social media activities and...
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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12 comments on “17 ways motor sport is helping to fight the pandemic”

  1. Good to read how all of these people and companies are stepping up to do what they can to use their skills and resources to help us all get through this to their abilities.

  2. As much as I like Lando and I do sometimes watch his stream, something about him wearing a $300,000.00 watch while pointing at the $12,000.00 donated by regular Joes rubs me the wrong way.

    1. Glad it isn’t just me who was thinking that, I made a similar comment at the time. I assume Richard Mille just send Lando and Carlos watches that they have to wear but they never actually own them.

  3. Are you aware of any other ways people involved in motorsport have helped fight the pandemic? Please share them in the comments.

    The most obvious one: cancelling/postponing races (before they were obliged to so)!

  4. Nice summary, Keith.

    The Racing Point driver runs a foundation which has set a target of supplying one million parcels. Perez himself has paid for the first thousand.

    Are those food parcels?

  5. I still believe that some of these businesses are doing the medical stuff just so they can call themselves as essential businesses and keep their doors open.

    1. Well, if they’re helping Does it really matter?

      1. Good point there Norris.

      2. It helps and it hurts. I’m not so sure about which way it goes. Having more medical stuff helps, spreading the disease doesn’t.

  6. Lando Norris really is the star of this non-season. He’s doing great things for social media and F1. I also appreciate his fundraising and general nice guy-ness.

    An interesting view of the good done by F1; the sponsor watch on his wrist in the article picture is worth more than donations tenfold.

  7. Why is it Lewis Hamilton is usually the first to preach to others about what they should and shouldn’t do yet again his name is absent from the list of those that are actually doing something?

    & Bravo to Lando, Charles, George, Alex, Nicolas, Antonio (& co) They have proved that F1 will never die and will have plenty of young supporters all over the world along with being very entertaining over the past several weeks

  8. Giancarlo Fisichella (sportscars… …mostly) is raffling a Skype call in support of the Sacco Hospital in Milan.

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