Mark Webber, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019

F1 one of the hardest sports to hold amid pandemic – Webber

2020 F1 season

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Formula 1’s global nature will make it one of the hardest sports to hold amid the pandemic, former driver Mark Webber has warned.

The nine-times grand prix winner told Australian news channel 9now he expects F1 will be able to hold races this year, but “in a very, very different format, clearly with no crowds.”

“Formula 1 is probably the worst sport in the world, to be honest, in terms of how we cross borders all the time and we have different countries that individuals are coming from,” said Webber.

“It’s not just that we’re all based in the UK or out of Italy, there’s nationalities galore involved with the sport. You’ve got medical situations involved, you’ve got a lot of dynamics.”

However he believes the championship can hit its target of beginning its season in July with the Austrian Grand Prix.

“I think that if anyone can get through this, when they can find a way in a professional way with the right testing, I think Formula 1 will be back where they can, hopefully in July.”

How F1 will bring social distancing to the paddock – and who will be allowed in
Webber defended the sport’s handling of the Australian Grand Prix, which was called off on the morning practice was due to begin, when fans had already begun arriving at the circuit.

“It was so close to be happening,” he said. “We were dealing with hours at that point, weren’t we, on a global stage?

“I think that having everyone here, they were trying to do what they could. There was a few unfortunate positive tests in the paddock at that point. And the sort of capitulation point was quite nasty, the fans had arrived of course.”

Conflicting reports about whether the race would go ahead emerged after McLaren announced it would not take part in the race because one of its team members had tested positive for the Covid-19 Coronavirus.

“It was hard to keep it quiet,” said Webber. “There was leaking media overnight through in Italy and BBC with the UK, the time zones over there so when we woke up over here. The media, as it is, we love them. But they were onto it.

“They did what they could, the event, at that time. We needed Chase Carey, the CEO, the boss of Formula 1 to come down here and get boots on the ground and help call the event off with the Australian Grand Prix Corporation.”

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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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  • 12 comments on “F1 one of the hardest sports to hold amid pandemic – Webber”

    1. Anyone entering the UK after the end of May will be expected to self isolate for 14 days.

      Until that ends, I expect that’ll put the tin hat on F1.

      1. @Jon Bee I’ve already pointed out this before, but the first Silverstone-race couldn’t take place seven or fourteen days after the second Red Bull Ring-race, so August 2 at the earliest should Red Bull Ring race II take place on July 12, although this isn’t the only thing impacted by this move, but also other races in different countries.

      2. The news this morning is also showing that under “leaked documents” the Uk won’t allow sporting events until it’s in the green phase which is “once a vaccine is found”.

        It was never going to happen in July anyway, but now it’s guaranteed we won’t see racing for a long while.

        1. In other leaks today the FIA have set a date for the first British GP as 19th July. They are assuming that quarantine will not apply as everyone returning will have been tested and that as they will have been isolated at the Austrian race, that will count. A second race is planned at Silverstone the following Wednesday or Thursday. The leak claims that hotels near the RB Ring have already been booked for the support series and flights have been chartered. No journalists allowed in the circuit and only the FOM TV crew.
          I can see that they might just be able to get the RB ring races running but the assumptions made about Silverstone and travel to/from there just seem wildly optimistic.

          1. There’s also the fact that for the majority of Europe, the number of new cases per day is going down steadily but that’s not the case in the UK at all. The government are trying to put a positive spin on things but moves like enforcing a 14 day quarantine on anyone entering the country make it clear that behind the scenes, they realise that they haven’t got things under control and need to tighten measures.

            I’d say the chances of a race at Silverstone is 0. Considering most teams are based in the UK, it also causes huge problems as lots of teams won’t be able to send staff home between races.

            1. @petebaldwin it is worth noting that the UK was not unique though, as quite a few European nations recorded a spike in cases around the 6th-7th May.

              To put it into perspective, Portugal, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Germany, amongst others, all also recorded an increase in cases around those dates, just like the UK, with most of those seeing a decline after that date (Sweden and Belgium being an exception, as they’ve not shown a clear sign of dropping back just yet).

          2. @mrfill Source? I’d be interested to read about that.

        2. Looks like F1 are trying to circumvent the 14 day UK quarantine, although full details of how it would operate haven’t been released yet
          https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/formula1/52608727

      3. Tom Sherrill
        10th May 2020, 20:38

        If the virus is spread all over the world and they are only visiting countries with a similar level of outbreak, being in one country and going to another wouldn’t pose any greater risk of contracting or spreading the virus.

        What matters is the protocols in place to limit transmission within the participants. Plans outlined so far seem thorough.

    2. Interesting piece on how marshalling is affected – https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2020/may/10/silverstone-marshals-wary-extra-risks-f1-behind-closed-doors

      Even with no crowds, an F1 race needs 300+ marshalls and 50 doctors, who all need to be fed, and tested. Can the NHS spare 50 doctors for a weekend?

      Austria might be able to put on a race this year, but I doubt Britain will.

    3. Probably is one of the easiest, because the public is only part of the decoration!! Public doesn’t have an impact in driver actions, nor gives them more pressure.

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