F1 team motorhomes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019

F1 races ‘won’t be stopped by positive Covid-19 test’

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In the round-up: FIA institute president Gerard Saillant says it won’t be necessary to cancel F1 races if someone in the paddock tests positive for Covid-19, as happened at the Australian Grand Prix.

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Comment of the day

Is F1 being irresponsible by planning to put races on in July, even with testing?

I can’t help but feel this is all very wrong. F1 is 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.
George (@Feral)

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28 comments on “F1 races ‘won’t be stopped by positive Covid-19 test’”

  1. And imagine questions on press events on those early GPs:
    covid, covid, covid, tyre deg, covid, covid.
    covid, covid, covid, 2021 cars, covid, covid.
    Yes, everybody could use some cheer up, but the podium cerimony would certainly had to be curtailed.
    And let’s pray no driver/team member fall ill after the first GPs.
    Sincerely, as big as the damage is by not running this year, the potential real/PR disasters this eagerness to hold GPs should be avoided.

    1. @gusmaia Except there wouldn’t be press events as there wouldn’t be any media or journalists as per usual. Maybe only Will Buxton as his employed by F1 rather than any separate specific TV-channel or paper. In this scenario, he’d solely be responsible for doing all the pre-race weekend interviews and every channel + paper would just use his interviews for reporting what has been said.

      1. @gusmaia I agree with you on everything below the third sentence, though.

  2. I think it’s as every country is right now… Battling health versus financial ruin.

    If teams aren’t going to race this year, we may very well loose two or three of them. I think F1 do need to go racing to maintain their viability before everything collapses.

    1. How so?

      Can someone please enlighten me as to how racing equates to income for teams this year. It’s not as if they get prize money or part of a gate take each race. They don’t get paid to participate.

      My understanding is that the teams will all be due payments from FOM as a distribution of LAST years funds.

      My understanding is that not racing would have an impact on NEXT years distribution from FOM and would have zero impact on the teams for this year.

      Of course I’ve been known to be incorrect so if I’m wide of the mark, can someone fill in the blanks.

      1. ColdFly (@)
        6th May 2020, 10:46

        Can someone please enlighten me as to how racing equates to income for teams this year.

        Have to do it from memory, but here we go @dbradock:
        The splits are based on last year’s standing but the payments are based on this year’s profit distribution. There are prepayments throughout the season based on profit estimates with a final payment next year when the exact profit is known.
        Thus if FOM has no income there will no profit and there is little to distribute this year (the final payment of last year has already been made).
        FOM will try to organise as many races to secure TV and sponsorship income based on the contracts in place and actual races run. They will accept less/no/negative income from the promotors (about 35% of normal revenue – again from memory).

        1. @coldfly thanks for that.

          Still think its a huge risk though as the chances of hitting the numbers to secure TV money are, IMO, no better than about 40% – there’s still way too many factors that could close it down. Not sure how financially beneficial it will be if they fail to secure the TV money having spend a lot to hold (say) 10 races with no fans and then having to abandon the rest of the races.

          Once we see EPL and similar running smoothly, where there are events just in the one country that involve teams, I might be more confident but even those seem some way off.

          1. Infection management to me is about making and maintaining bubbles of isolation. FOM are more than capable of defining and managing the membranes, it then just needs monitoring & cooperation of the internees. If people don’t want to comply then let them stay out or leave.
            Going further, there are significant issues at the first race(s) in changing country then, given this season already won’t be like any other, it would be a travesty but probably not an utter travesty to hold the entire season at one track. It only depends on what people will watch (I watched the IMS vrace… ie. anything). There are other variables that could be varied that would still test the cars, teams & drivers: Day/night, clockwise/anticlockwise (bring out the bulldozers and make required runoffs – won’t be at Imola), tyres, length of race (to (de)prioritise fuel), reverse grid, fricking sprinklers.

          2. @dbradock This seems to imply that it is a case of all the money or no money though. If there were 10 races broadcast I am sure that there would still be a reduced income from the broadcasters. In these uncertain times it is more than likely sky at al will happily pay something towards broadcasting a reduced calendar.

      2. @dbradock – ColdFly’s explained it well, but here’s another way of looking at it.

        From an accounting perspective, you’re right in saying that payments this year is based on income earned last year.

        However, in terms of actual money on hand, Liberty most likely haven’t squirrelled away their income from last year for use this year – instead, that income has most likely been spent towards expenses, servicing debt (i.e. loan payments), dividends, etc.

        In effect, they’re “borrowing” from the 2020 income (e.g. promoters and broadcast fees for this interrupted season’s races) in order to fulfil their 2019 obligations to the teams. This revolving door is fine as long as the year-on-year routine is uninterrupted. Throw a corona-sized wrench into that, and things can go awry once they start eating through what reserves they might have.

  3. Wrong track in the image. It should be Circuit de Catalunya instead of Imola.

    1. I also immediately thought it was Imola. But then I started to doubt myself and think it was out of T12 in Barcelona. Love that era of F1.

  4. The sport is on a very tricky tight rope – if someone tests positive it will be a big negative news story. If someone dies as a direct result of going racing too soon, it would be catastrophic. Obviously no one life is more valuable than another but if, say, a driver got ill or died, there could be no worse PR disaster. The circus is heavily male dominated and being a man is a risk factor for worse outcomes with Covid. It would surely preclude any events happening until 2021 at the earliest. I’m highly sceptical the sport can avoid people getting infected.

    A cautious and slow return is surely the only sensible approach. However, there seems to be an ugly inertia behind ‘getting the show on the road’ that will bulldozer these concerns.

  5. ColdFly (@)
    6th May 2020, 7:36

    Alonso Keen to Try for Third 24H Le Mans Victory (Sportscar365.com)
    “obviously my experience with Le Mans is 100 percent love, because of my two participations and two wins. I want to try [for] the third, for sure. Let’s see when.”


  6. Disagree with COTD as more and more countries are opening up, following Sweden’s example of controlled spread. In fact the race in Australia should already have gone ahead without the crowd, as it was already clear from South Korea’s testing extenisive program that the mortality rate was very low, and that only the sick and elderly was at risk. The F1 circus can all be tested, come in their own plane and stay in controlled venues, without much contact with the outside world and be a minimum factor in spread and not burden the health services at all.

    1. I for one, have no interest in killing the sick or elderly. Even if it is ‘only them’.

      1. @skettlewood such a lame-ass comment..

    2. GtisBetter (@)
      6th May 2020, 9:36

      More countries are going to the next step from lockdown. This is hardly opening up. Travel is still very much restricted for the coming months and so are events. There is still much unknown. While elderly and sick most definitely have higher risk, it’s a lie to say they are the only ones. Research is being done on an unknown and very rare condition in young children which might be connected to Civic-19. There are cases of young people dying and developing lung damage with no prior health conditions. Point is, we need time to fully understand it and we shouldn’t make absolute statements pretending we do. And controlled does not mean safe.

      You can’t control the virus now, just try as much as possible to avoid contamination, but reading the info they just seem to want to tick boxes to prevent liability in stead of actually create a safe environment. Cause the safest thing to do is not race. The next thing is one day races race at one location multiple times and the next thing would be just multiple one day races on different circuits in only one country. F1 is basically on a point on the list of safe conditions that I don’t think safe applies anymore.

    3. Please, dont follow sweden, we have had a complete slaughter among the elder homes. I dont say that 100% lockdown is the best long term solution, but the very slow actions here in sweden have caused many unnecessary deaths up to now, thats for sure. But some kind of controlled opening of society will be needed in the world, otherwise there will be no tax money left to save anyone. Not sure F1 is the best way of starting, it can really be a potential PR disaster..

      1. @maisch Sweden messed up not isolating the nursing homes, but so did almost the whole world. The rest of the policy is working well. R is less than 1, and herd immunity is already being established in major cities.

        Mortality rate of the flu is around 0.6%, maybe even less. Like I said, a controlled F1 race will make little to no impact.

    4. Sweden’s experiment doesn’t look attractive or successful at all, have a look at any stats for neighbouring countries. Current death rate at the moment is a magnitude worse than, Norway’s & twice as bad as any EU country… almost as bad as the UK.

  7. I wonder if the teams won’t even be out on the grid before the start of race.

    I think we’ll see the cars peel out of their garages in qualifying order and go straight onto the formation lap out of the pits.

  8. It’s fine to talk about how they are going to isolate the paddock with a biosphere or whatever & do all this testing for those traveling to races. But i’ve not seen them say anything about how they are going to handle the dozens of local people & services that are used over a race weekend.

    The track workers, Circuit security/Police & the medial staff as well as the air/road ambulance services are all local people & they may well be relying on local services for the testing as well.

    The issue of taking up testing kits that may be more needed elsewhere is one thing but using up medical/policing resources that may also be better used elsewhere is another issue for me. We have seen medical systems all around the world brought to breaking point in recent months & many will likely not be totally recovered by July/August so again is it sensible to be using those resources purely to allow people to go racing?

    I said a few weeks ago that it seems like F1 is only looking at itself when making these plans/statements to go racing again & i’ve not seen much to change my mind. Going racing isn’t simply about F1, There is a lot of outside F1 people who are needed & could be affected by this & they need to factor that in.

    1. Great point there @gt-racer, I share your concern. I really cannot see many races in democratic countries going ahead especially because of this. Maybe Mateschitz is enough of a bigwig in the Graz region of Austria to get this done at the cost of the public.
      But I doubt (and really hope they got their priorities right) many would be of the same opinion throughout the summer at least. See the reasoning of why the Netherlands decided on not allowing football matches until september, since it would take capacity from police and health staffs that can better be utilised currently.

      Off course this won’t be a problem for the autocrats on the calendar (even though I doubt Russia/Sochi or Baku can be really safe enough in time for the F1 races even then), I guess we’ll see how Orban stands in that aspect for Hungary too.

  9. they are safer outside of the garages anyway 🙂

    c’mon people, some optimism, curve is flattened in many places, measures are being lifted… virus can’t be eradicated, only shortly contained. f1 can bring some good vibes and positivity and is technically capable of strict control and safety

  10. When will the f1 world get with the basic fact that their is no possibility of this season getting started?? Common sense says no international travel until a vaccine. Divulge down from there. I don’t see any races for much of next year also.

  11. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
    6th May 2020, 17:45

    Re: Death Threats… As much as I hate to say it, it’s absolutely a part of the “Twitch” culture. Every genre of gaming on Twitch deals with harassment and death threats from militant viewers, and every person who has ever gone against a popular streamer has likely felt that wrath.

  12. IMO it’s time Alonso went to Indycar. He will knock the field, be in the news, become popular and his star will rise more than seen to be waning. It would be like Mansell before.

    For the remote chance that Ferrari or someone would want him back, he can just do single-year contracts.

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