F1 paddock, Sochi Autodrom, 2019

F1 to test paddock members for Covid-19 every 48 hours

2020 F1 season

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Formula 1 paddock members will be tested for the Covid-19 Coronavirus every two days when the series resumes racing behind closed doors in July.

F1 managing director Ross Brawn said the championship is “working very closely with the FIA” to work out how it will be able to hold races without fans present. This is due to begin with the Austrian Grand Prix on July 5th.

“The FIA are doing a great job of putting together the structure we need,” Brawn told Sky. “Everybody will be tested and will have a clearance before they can go into [the paddock].

“Then every two days they will be tested whilst in the paddock. That will be with an authorised authority and system. Certainly for all the European races we’ll be using the same facility to conduct that testing. We can ensure that everybody has been tested who is in that environment [is] tested regularly.”

While F1 teams have to cross borders to put on races other series, such as NASCAR, are based entirely within a single country. America’s most popular motor sport will resume races without fans on May 17th.

NASCAR is not planning to test for the virus as “it doesn’t feel that is a productive use of tests”, according to US broadcaster Fox. Any NASCAR drivers or crew members who exhibit Covid-19 symptoms will be required to self-isolate for 14 days and the series will allow ‘medical waivers’ for missed races.

NASCAR will race behind closed doors next week
Brawn said F1 will restrict mixing between team’s staff as far as possible to limit any possible transmission of the virus.

“We’ll have restrictions on how people move around within the paddock,” he said. “We cannot socially distance within a team so we have to create an environment within itself, effectively a small bubble of isolation. The teams will stay within their own groups, they won’t mingle with other teams and they’ll set their own hotels. There’s no motorhomes going to be there.”

Different arrangements will be needed for some staff involved with running the races, Brawn added.

“We’re just working with those people who sometimes have to go to all the garages, how that [will work] and what we can do there. So there’s a tremendous amount of work going on between ourselves and the FIA.

“I’m very encouraged by what I’m seeing and what I’m hearing, we’ll be able to provide a safe environment that we can still [race] properly.”

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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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  • 38 comments on “F1 to test paddock members for Covid-19 every 48 hours”

    1. So NASCAR will be continuing, but not performing any tests in the worst-hit country in the world? Seems to check out.

      1. On the other hand, think of the thousands of test kits (and the huge lab capacity) F1 will be using @mashiat.

        I agree with you that the NASCAR approach doesn’t seem sensible (especially as we already know that one is almost certainly already infecting others before noticing signs of being infected), but testing every 2 days seems huge claim on relatively sparse test capacities (it means 5-6 THOUSAND tests during EACH F1 event even if they restrict those to 4 days total, could be up to 10 thousand per event!).

        Couldn’t those tests be better used to screen essential workers? And have F1 do a regular test but not that often

        1. @bascb if the tests were being undertaken through a private arrangement between F1 and the labs in question, then it might not necessarily be taking capacity away from the wider public demand.

          It also rather depends on the capacity of that nation to undertake tests and the rate at which the disease is spreading within that country. For example, Austria is currently in a situation where the number of confirmed cases per day is quite small – less than 20 – so, even though it might only be carrying out a few thousand tests a day, they might actually have spare capacity because the current transmission rate is low enough that mass testing is not necessarily required.

          Alternatively, if you look at the UK, although testing was initially slow, capacity has now expanded rapidly and is now at a point where they are carrying out tens of thousands of tests a day – a total of 10,000 tests over four days would actually be pretty insignificant when the UK is likely to have tested at least 250,000 members of the public over a comparable period.

          I think it is a more nuanced situation, as in some countries it might not necessarily represent a significant draw on testing resources in some countries, either because they already have a significant testing capacity or because transmission rates are low enough that there is not a significant need for mass testing of the wider population.

      2. GtisBetter (@)
        5th May 2020, 9:28

        I assume that the crew will also be tested before even going to a race? Also, who is testing this? A private company? How long does it take for results to be known?

        1. GtisBetter (@)
          5th May 2020, 9:29

          Sorry, was not meant to be a reply to mashiat

      3. @mashiat There’s a test shortage, so NASCAR not using tests is ethical in my view.

        What is not ethical is that they are competing at a time when there is a high chance of them spreading the virus inadvertently.

        1. @alianora-la-canta That’s my point. I have no issues with NASCAR not wanting to use up tests, but you can’t then continue the series. You either do it properly or not at all.

          1. @mashiat Even with testing, it’s possible to spread the virus in the window between obtaining it and getting tested, so I wouldn’t be happy with NASCAR continuing at this time in the USA even with tests.

    2. I can’t help but feel this is all very wrong. F1 are preparing to spend massive amounts on testing crews for the sake of ‘entertainment’ when many countries are struggling for equipment and facilities to test workers in essential services and industries. I am not even convinced it is for the sport but more to placate the heavy investors in F1 I can see this attracting much adverse publicity and will not sit well with the general public. I don’t think F1 is doing itself any favours here.

      1. Pedro Andrade
        5th May 2020, 10:19

        I generally agree with the sentiment, but playing a bit of devil’s advocate, isn’t that the case anytime, anywhere? In “normal” times you have this sport paying vast sums and resources on luxury items such as millionaire salaries or gargantuan motorhomes, when similar sporting and technological output could be achieved much more efficiently while allocating those resources to any other community in peril or societal challenge.

        I agree with you that F1 should not use its financial power to usurp this limited resource from others, but unfortunately this is business as usual with any resource across society, we shouldn’t forget that.

        1. It can also be noted that many celebrities and wealthy people are devoting some of their time and money to help worthy causes whereas F1 is doing it for self gratification.

          1. William Jones
            5th May 2020, 11:54

            Oh please! Let’s see how much tax relief they claim before making that definitive statement. Also, if F1 is buying testing kits, doesn’t that mean that the entity making them can increase production with an income stream they wouldn’t already have, or do you think that they won’t use that money to make even more money?

      2. Have to agree @feral I’d be far more comfortable if F1 stopped desperately trying to start a season regardless of cost and focused entirely on how to support it’s teams through an entire cancelled season.

        1. @dbradock The problem is that the #1 thing F1 can do to support its teams is to hold races safely and successfully… …because it probably cannot afford to support all these teams across a cancelled season. (This would be $1.45 bn just for the teams, not including engine supply, and Liberty makes maybe an eighth of that sum per year).

      3. @feral The test supply issue worries me too. We’re looking at 2-3 tests per person per race weekend (and an extra one for back-to-backs if there is no return to base). That is a lot of tests. Especially since, at that density of testing, false negatives start to become likely, and a lot of spread is possible within 48 hours.

      4. Magnus Rubensson (@)
        5th May 2020, 12:19

        I agree too. This season is already gone.
        Suppose there’s an outbreak at one of these races despite the testing?
        Imagine the level of negative publicity from that…

      5. ColdFly (@)
        5th May 2020, 12:23

        many countries are struggling for equipment and facilities to test workers in essential services and industries

        Testing capacity should not be an issue 2 months from today, @feral.
        And I cannot see why smart people cannot plan for future events based on emotional comments from the public based on today’s situation.

        1. You, I and Brawn have no idea what the situation will be in two months time. It is a real possibility that as countries ease on the lockdown it could trigger a second surge of infections and in the near future further restrictions may have to be enforced.

          1. ColdFly (@)
            5th May 2020, 16:44

            @feral, then why do feel it’s “all very wrong” if people only PLAN for this ????

            1. There are three way of looking at this situation. Through the eyes of the optimist, the glass is half full, the pessimist , the glass is half empty, the realist, all the pubs are closed anyway.

          2. Looking at Sweden and some Asian countries, I don’t see anything pointing out to the disease suddenly exploding again as long as people follow minimal social distancing and hygiene rules. Besides, changing standards and all. Most Italians, Brits or whatever would likely think 50 – 100 deaths a day until a vaccine is a-OK while there was dismay and terror everywhere the first time the death rate climbed that high in Europe some two months ago.

    3. So Liberty and the FIA are working together. Isn’t that ignoring the fact that there are countries and governments that need to be worked with as well?

      Again – Ross is telling us about some grand testing scheme without a mention of who is going to pick up the tab for that. As mentioned earlier, we’ve seen that many countries, and not insignificant ones, have had real difficulty in being able to arrange testing for their citizens that have actually needed to have them done, yet here’s F1 saying “we’ll test everyone every two days”

      Is Ross channeling his inner Trump and just spouting unrealistic, unverified claims or do they truly have the capacity to arrange that much testing?

      I’d also be very interested in how they will handle a scenario where a team member, or members, test positive. Will the entire team be put into quarantine and this be prevented from competing?

      1. It does seem unlikely that out of the 1000+ people tested that they will all prove to be negative. We saw what happened when one crew member went down with the virus in Australia. Such a result in Austria would not only put that race in jeopardy but have ongoing quarantine problems on return to the UK.

      2. @dbradock Until the F1 community has a protocol, it cannot check it against the reality countries are facing. This item is basically saying “we have a protocol and are ready to look at the next step”.

        1. @alianora-la-canta sorry but you’re completely wrong. Each country has a separate approach to how they are handling events, travel and people in general.

          Therefore they will need a protocol tailored to each country. Ross and Liberty’s happy talk needs to be tempered with a large dose of reality.

          1. @dbradock Tailoring won’t happen until there’s a protocol to start from (what happened here) and an initial check done with promoters and nations to see whether there is general feasibility (which I assume is the next thing that will happen). If that initial check shows the protocol is completely off-base, then tailoring won’t be done, because the template will be fixed first – it’s easier to change the protocol before tailoring is attempted than after it has begun.

    4. Awesome. But what if someone tests positive? that guy probably was in the same room as other people who might then test positive in the next few days, right?

      1. @fer-no65 Yes, a positive result would likely ground F1 for 2 weeks, plus however long it took for nations to trust them again. Even if it was just one person in one team, the nature of international transits means mixing will happen (even if accidentally).

      2. I’m going back to work next week and so the same scenario applies to me to and everyone else in the next month or so. and F1 we are talking 2 month. No-one at my working is going to be tested let alone 2 or 3 times over a race weekend.

        Sure if someone gets it, it could be a lot worse, but there will be VERY strict rules about not leaving the venue etc so if no-one tests positive, it’s unlikely that someone is going to get it. all the food etc will be handled correctly and no contact delivery etc. So TBO I’d be happier going to work in F1 than my factory.

        I will say however, all the people OUTSIDE of the F1 teams is more of an issue. But again, if they get tested marshals say, should still be safe. Since many doctors think 1m of separation is enough, that can easily be done until a crash and even then, it;s driver out and away and minimal people to rescue the car.

    5. This could be a devious plan by Brawn. He gathers the full F1 circus together in Austria and allows the virus to run rife, then after a month has passed they will all supposedly have immunity. This will then allow him to run the rest of the season behind closed doors.

      1. @feral Some people have had COVID-19 twice, because there are two variants. So for this to work he’d either have to check both variants were in a particular location or do the procedure twice (checking on the second occasion that the variant present is not the one to which antibodies have already developed). And hope no third variant appears in between. And hope countries ignore the laws about deliberately infecting people (in “corona camps” or otherwise) – something I have seen fines issued for already.

        1. ColdFly (@)
          5th May 2020, 12:28

          “Some people have had COVID-19 twice, because there are two variants.”
          As far as I know there are no proven cases of that, but anecdotes like this share nicely on social media, @alianora-la-canta.

          1. @coldfly It might be rare (even the worst-case maths indicates 2% of people who recover from the first infection, and various testing/sampling issues suggest the real number is likely to be below 1%), but it has been shown to occur (I am using statistics from South Korea to show this, though several other countries have recorded the phenomenon to a limited extent). The fact it can happen at all means that the “corona camp” method once wouldn’t be guaranteed to solve the issue.

            1. ColdFly (@)
              5th May 2020, 14:33

              Sorry, @alianora-la-canta, this is ‘fake news’, and only popular on Facebook and WhatsApp.
              From memory, there was some news like that in South Korea mid last months, but they soon corrected that as they were measuring remaining dead virus fractions in the second test.
              Even though immunity has not been proven yet, there has been no proven cases of infections relapses yet. As mention above it is wise to stick to the proven facts (proper medical research with all the checks and balances).

            2. carbonized
              6th May 2020, 2:09

              Sorry, @ColdFly but in this time of Trumpism someone “proven facts” will always be someone else “fake news”

            3. @coldfly I had not seen the dead virus item at all. I don’t use Facebook or Whatsapp, nor had I obtained the original item from any of the social media I do use, which worries me as it looks like I need a different mix of primary media sources to find out what is going on.

    6. I’m going back to work next week and no-one at my work is going to be tested let alone 2 or 3 times over a race weekend. and that’s going to be in two months time, o TBO I’d be happier going to work in F1 than my factory

      Sure if someone gets it, it could be a lot worse, but there will be VERY strict rules about not leaving the venue etc so if no-one tests positive, it’s unlikely that someone is going to get it. all the food etc will be handled correctly and no contact delivery etc.

      I will say however, all the people OUTSIDE of the F1 teams is more of an issue. But again, if they get tested marshals say, should still be safe. Since many doctors think 1m of separation is enough, that can easily be done until a crash and even then, it;s driver out and away and minimal people to rescue the car.

    7. This is good news! I’m pleased Ross and the others at Liberty Media and the FIA are making progress towards holding races in a safe manner. It would be better to be able to create “sand boxes” within a team, e.g. one for each car, but one has to be realistic, and I’m sure most people would want to be told the truth than a nice lie.
      I suppose special precautions will be taken for those that have to visit every garage.

    Comments are closed.