Jean Todt, 2020

F1 is a “global example” of how to continue life amid pandemic – Todt

2020 F1 season

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FIA president Jean Todt says he is “very proud” of the example Formula 1 has set by successfully restarting its 2020 championship amid the global pandemic.

The 2020 F1 season has faced unprecedented disruption since the outbreak of Covid-19. Having originally planned a 22-round championship beginning in March, the season eventually began four months later.

While many races have been called off, including most of the non-European rounds, the reorganisation and addition of new events means F1 is on course to hold as many as 18 grands prix by the end of the year.

Todt said F1 has reaped the benefit of a pro-active effort to return to racing, instead of taking the “easy decision” of saying “let’s wait until things get better”.

“Formula 1 was the first international series to start again with very strict protocols,” said Todt in response to a question from RaceFans. “And it has been a global example again of motivation, of engagement to restart racing.

“I read also that ‘you do that for money’. For me, it’s wrong. You do that because life has to go back as much as possible to normal taking into consideration that the virus is there.

“It has been the life before which we all know. Nobody was predicting that we could live this kind of situation and now we need to learn with this virus.”

He praised F1’s “creative” approach to rebuilding its calendar by arranging consecutive races at the same track, and adding circuits which were not originally part of the calendar, which in some cases have never held grands prix before.

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“To have Formula 1 being the leader and being very creative to rebuild the whole calendar, starting in Austria, deciding back-to-back [races], then being creative to decide to host three grands prix in the same country – Monza, Mugello, Imola – to go to Portimao in Portugal, to decide to go back to Germany, has required a lot of energy, a lot of creativity and a lot of team spirit.

Perez missed last week’s race following positive Covid test
“Think of all the people behind [the scenes]. Because you have what you see and what you don’t see. Legally, it’s a big endorsement to decide we are going to host racing in this kind of situation.

“So clearly it has been a lot [of effort]. Here you have medical commission of FIA working with the administration, the FIA together with promoter representative, with the national promoter representative, with the government, with their teams. It’s a combination of effort put together to be able to host a championship.”

F1 has put in place a comprehensive Covid-19 Code of Conduct to minimise exposure to the virus among competitors, staff, media and others who attend races. Over 17,000 tests had been conducted as of last week, with only three positive results.

One of those three results involved a driver, Sergio Perez, following his return to Mexico between the Hungarian and British Grand Prix. Todt said Perez’s positive case highlighted the importance of following the code and urged competitors to remember they are viewed as role models.

“Something is sure: If you do something, you take a risk,” he said. “We have been applying a Code of Conduct for everybody, including the media, including people working in the administration, in order to minimise the risk.”

“People may decide to take a risk [which] maybe they could have avoided to take. They must be prepared to have the consequences of the risk in case of a positive [test].

“My only strong message would be, be respectful of the Code of Conduct because it can have consequences for you and for people around you. So we have to be careful.”

“Clearly the reason why the virus has decreased is since it has been controlled better,” Todt added. “If you want to address this thing at a global level much more than simply at the sport level I think it is very important to have a population which is respectful to what is occuring.

“Sportsmen are examples. By giving examples, we will get more results and probably people, all people, normal citizens will pay more attention if they see that people who are representative of something do respect [that] which is to be respected.”

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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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5 comments on “F1 is a “global example” of how to continue life amid pandemic – Todt”

  1. For once, I think he is quite right. F1 has done well in re-starting the sport despite all the nay-sayers. Experimenting with double headers and short weekends show they are prepared to make major changes and , if anything, these have made 2020 into a fascinating season, unlike any other. There will be setbacks – Barcelona may be cancelled – but considering the circumstances, they deserve praise.

    1. @mrfill I agree with you, although I’m not worried about the Spanish GP. The circuit, after all, stated earlier that the restrictions that came into effect last month in Spain aren’t going to have an impact on the race weekend. People were pessimistic about Hungary as well because of the restrictions on UK-people, but F1 managed in the end, so I’m also positive for Montmelo’s event.

    2. I agree that they did a great job in re-staring F1 in a safe environment.
      Also good to see the activities agaist racism and inequality.

      But I don’t understand how both of that rhymes with treating the drivers differently from the rest by allowing them to leave the ‘bubble’ and make (transatlantic) home/family visits.
      FIA should be must stronger in this, rather than just reminding that drivers are role models.

  2. I thank F1 for the distraction but I think it’s morally wrong. Learning to “live” with the virus, or more to the point, just accept the deaths.

    It’s impossible to count the indirect virus spread from all the support staff, media, travel, etc… The attitude that lives have been lost so be it, this is the new normal, it’s just not right to me. Shouldn’t be so hard to hunker down until it’s over. That F1 couldn’t financially, and feels the “need” to push forward no matter the cost to the health of the wider community and the message it sends; to me it just says a lot about the fragility of the entire enterprise.

    Would have rather seen more sports hold off on getting back to “normal”, because things aren’t normal, and pretending they are to me, just sends the wrong message.

  3. While he is right, the Perez story just posted proves that they haven’t got it 100% right.

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