Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2019

Brazil’s grand prix “obviously in question” if Covid situation doesn’t improve – Ricciardo

RaceFans Round-up

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In the round-up: Daniel Ricciardo says Brazil’s high Covid-19 rate could prevent its Formula 1 race going ahead later this year.

In brief

F1 may have to miss Brazil again – Ricciardo

Brazil is one of the countries which has been hit hardest by Covid-19. The virus has killed over 380,000 of its citizens, more than any country bar the USA. But while America’s death rate has fallen to 4,000 per week, Brazil is losing 10,000 more, the worst fatality rate in the world at present.

Almost a quarter of Brazil’s deaths have occured in Sao Paulo, home to its round of the world championship. The race may be more than six months away, but questions are already being raised over whether it should go ahead.

“I am aware Brazil currently is not in a good place with Covid,” said Daniel Ricciardo in an interview with EMTV. “I think if we were scheduled to go there this weekend I’m pretty convinced it would be up in the air. I don’t think we would be all in.

“I think for now they’re kind of on the hope that by then things settle down but if it’s still as it is, then that race could potentially be obviously in question.”

The Interlagos race has been brought forward by a week in order to accommodate the rescheduled Australian Grand Prix. Ricciardo light-heartedly suggested his home race – which like Brazil’s was also dropped from last year’s calendar – could become a double-header if F1 abandons its trip to Sao Paulo.

“I know they [F1] are obviously keen on 23 [races] this year. A bit like last year I’m sure there are maybe some circuits call it that could fill some gaps if some are lost. So we’ll see. Maybe a double-header in Australia.”

F2 testing ends with Drugovich on top

Felipe Drugovich placed in the top three throughout testing at the Circuit de Catalunya and concluded the third day of running with the outright fastest time. The Virtuosi driver posted a best lap of 1’27.945.

He was followed by a pair of Alpine juniors: Oscar Piastri, second for Prema, and Christian Lundgaard, third for ART.

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Comment of the day

Formula E’s explanation for the controversial end to Saturday’s race didn’t impress everyone:

This is a cop-out response. It’s also easily countered by – what if the leading car was de Vries? Then he would have been incentivised to ensure everyone had to do an extra racing lap, thus check-mating his rivals into not being able to finish the race.

No, clearly there is an issue with the way energy reduction is calculated under safety car (if this is even necessary) and I would be more reassured to hear them acknowledge it and commit to finding solutions to ensure it doesn’t happen again. It seems much like what happens in F1 where there is some regulation or safety dispute that the first instinct is for them to go on the defensive and deny that that is any issue, rather than acknowledge it and tackle it head on.
Keith Campbell (@Keithedin)

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Daniil Kvyat, AlphaTauri, Imola, 2020
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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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  • 59 comments on “Brazil’s grand prix “obviously in question” if Covid situation doesn’t improve – Ricciardo”

    1. I don’t envy Daly and while it looks like he was using the extra vent above the Areoscreen to get more airflow he says his team didn’t know about cooling shirts and he wasn’t wearing one. But he says they will wear them in the future.

    2. I dunno, CotD has a point, but no different to how the leader in F1 can either stack up or distance the field at the restart to benefit them, and their strategy, or their teams strategy. The rules are the same for everyone, but it becomes a problem when one driver can work the rules in their favour to the detriment or benefit of those around them.

      It’s just a shame because it’s such an easy fix to say in the last 5 laps no energy will be deducted under safety car or something like that. It’s all much ado about nothing.

      1. Well I guess that would be last 5 minutes, either way…

      2. The ability to decide how many laps the race runs is a little bit more powerful than what any F1 driver will have on restart.

        1. @exediron But that’s no different from any sports car race that runs to a time limit. I don’t feel the same way as COTD at all. To me, it would be a particularly neat bit of cunning if someone could exploit that and run all their rivals out of energy to win.

          I’d put it on par with how Dan Gurney won the 1962 Daytona race after his motor blew by parking at the top of the banking before the finish line, waiting until the chequered flag dropped, and then rolling downhill across the line with the electric starter motor running. Some could (and probably did) call that farce, but I think it’s brilliant.

          1. @markzastrow The problem is the reason for drivers running out of ‘fuel’ in this case is a variable and uncertain amount of reduction in usable energy based on the time spent behind safety cars during the race. And it seems the teams could not even accurately calculate the amount of available energy that would be reduced and had to wait to be told by the race director. So there is no real planning going into your strategy – you could conserve energy and allow for additional safety cars but that would leave you at a disadvantage to your rivals if no safety car occurs (de Vries was told by his team on the radio that he should use more energy because he was under-consuming unless he got lucky with a late safety car). Or you could go flat out and accept that you won’t finish the race if there’s a safety car. And your decision might also depend on who happens to be leading the field, and whether they are incentivised to push for another lap, or delay.

            It’s not really strategy to me, it’s just a badly thought out system where the outcome will depend on safety car gambles, and gives far too much control over the outcome to the lead driver, who can in certain situations prevent his rivals from even finishing the race.

            1. @keithedin You are saying that there is not strategy here, yet what you’ve done is very clearly lay out the different strategic options available to the teams (especially the leader). If you want more energy to use at the end, you only have to use less of it.

              All racing strategy is nothing more than a series of gambles. If that’s a problem, it’s the same one that F1 has in “allowing” cars to gamble on a safety car for a cheap pit stop.

              Of course, racing series are free to decide under the rules which strategic options are available to them. But it’s hardly a surprise to me that a series that is explicitly about managing energy, time, and distance should find its competitors sometimes caught out in a failure to manage those variables. Whether a mass failure to do so is exciting or a “farce” depends largely on your preconceived notion about what a racing series should look like.

            2. @markzastrow My issue is that it is an artificially introduced problem that will arbitrarily reward or punish (to extreme extents, such as turning a win into a DNF) drivers based on pure luck of the draw on the timing and duration of safety cars. Drivers choosing whether to run a normally sub-optimal strategy where they conserve some excess energy in the hopes that a late safety car will cause their rivals to plummet down the field or fail to finish, or whether to run flat out in the very likely event that there is no safety car, is not an intelligent strategy decision – it’s a pure gamble. Actually if you are running far down the field then you might as well gamble on the safety car, since you have nothing to lose and might be gifted a win or podium out of nowhere.

              I know events like safety cars will always benefit some drivers over others based on the state of the race, but why would you artificially amplify that effect by creating potential for such dramatic swings in fortune? I haven’t even mentioned the potential for teams to abuse this for their own benefit, ala crashgate. I know that scenario is unlikely and would be thoroughly investigated, but it just seems so unnecessary to even create the possibility for it. Now that teams have seen the potential results, every late safety car which swings the fortunes of the drivers and championship contenders could create the potential for conspiracy theories and mistrust over the integrity of the competition.

              But there are simple solutions to this problem, just ensure that the energy reduction calculation only reduces available energy by the amount the cars save naturally due to running under safety car conditions, and doesn’t exceed it by a large margin as it seemed to do this weekend. All races should also be run to a set number of laps like they are in F1 (with maximum time rarely coming into play) so all the key variables regarding energy consumption are known at the outset. Then teams can all run an intelligent strategy based on known quantities and won’t have their race completely destroyed by events outside of their control – such as untimely safety cars and the race director’s discretion of how much energy to remove from their allowable energy usage.

            3. @keithedin But “luck of the draw on the timing and duration of safety cars” can decide F1 races as well and gift drivers with a win or a podium out of nowhere. Teams leave their drivers out on worn tyres hoping for a safety car all the time in F1. That’s not any more intelligent than the scenarios you describe — it’s a pure gamble.

              It sounds like you are defining an “intelligent” strategy as one that can be predetermined with no unknown quantities, but I would argue that doesn’t allow for any strategy. As we’ve seen in F1, you need unknowns — like rate of tyre wear on a particular compound in particular conditions — to have any strategy options at all. But in FE, the most sensitive variable is the level of remaining usable energy of the car, which is entirely known to each team and also to all of their competitors. So while I agree with you that your proposed “solutions” would indeed eliminate the “problem,” because the entire point of the series is to showcase energy management, it makes perfect sense to me to introduce unknowns related to energy management, like using a timed race so that the race distance becomes a shifting target.

              And as @jeanrien points out below, the fundamental gambit here has nothing to do with safety cars, but rather that the leader in every FE race is at risk of mismanaging time and distance and arriving sooner at the start/finish line than they anticipate. Very nearly the exact same situation happened in Sunday’s race without any late-race safety cars — but Dennis slowed down and nailed the start of the final lap brilliantly, crossing the line just half a second after time expired.

              I completely understand that some people don’t like this kind of stuff in their racing, but to me, it seems entirely on brand for a series that very explicitly is about energy management. To me, these aren’t bugs, they’re features. The energy reduction rule is very simple — 1 kWh per minute under safety car. The teams simply weren’t prepared to cope with it, and da Costa was not prepared to crawl to the line in order to let time expire before crossing it. I would expect that as the teams are now more aware of how a late-race safety car could impact their energy budget, they would evolve their strategies to adapt, which is all part of the fun.

              I admit that arguably, there was some ambiguity here because this exact scenario hadn’t played out before — i.e., would da Costa really have been permitted to crawl to the line to manage his time and distance? The counterargument is that, of course, the leader has always had the privilege of pacing the field to the restart as long as they’re not making sudden decelerations, and we’ve seen extreme examples of that recently in F1 (e.g. Mugello). And if there was any ambiguity, the FIA have cleared it up with their statements that firmly assert da Costa could have done exactly that.

          2. I am comfortably with you there @markzastrow. While it looked a bit farcical on the feed – possibly partly because of confusing earlier % of energy displayed to TV viewers and the commentary team being surprised/seemingly not quite sure what was going on – but in reality it really did show how efficient running can win you a race and in the end it was a pretty unforgettable finish that will be referred to later!

      3. This is not the same at all. Comparing FE to F1 to justify FE’s inadequacies only makes FE look desperate.

        1. Desperate what, the cotd highlights that one driver had a say in the result of the rest of the field. That does happen in F1 restarts, as we have seen to horrible effect, it’s not just some desperate comparison.

      4. Actually the outcome might have been the same on Sunday, they slowed down to avoid the extra lap which would have caused trouble to half the field.
        The only thing is the delta time to reach the SC line when SC period is off. Difficult to remove it completely for safety reason. I guess it’s part of the game and bad luck when SC pop up and goes.

      5. @skipgamer The only problem with this theory is that the regulations don’t allow the leader of the race the degree of latitude you are suggesting they should have taken in this case – losing the extra lap in this case would have required them to drive unnecessarily slowly, which is banned in all FIA international series. Da Costa couldn’t have relied on Race Control exempting him for the same reason he couldn’t rely on them exempting him from Race Control’s pretence that the energy use under the Safety Car was the same as the energy use when the cars are not moving at all.

        1. @alianora-la-canta Driving at a pace needed to make it to the finish sounds like the definition of driving necessarily slowly.

          1. @markzastrow That’s not how it’s been interpreted by stewards in the past – “unnecessarily slowly” has always been defined by how it affects the rest of the race, not how it affects that individual. If a driver can’t keep up with the necessary pace, they’re expected to park safely, not ruin everyone else’s race in an attempt to remain running. Remember, “necessarily slowly” in this context would have meant “almost stationary for the entire lap-and-a-bit”.

            1. @alianora-la-canta

              “necessarily slowly” in this context would have meant “almost stationary for the entire lap-and-a-bit”.

              We may be talking about different things here. I’m not sure what you’re referencing. But da Costa was only 15 seconds early to the line, not a lap-and-a-bit early. As the leader, with the right to dictate the pace, he could have easily managed his time and distance if he had been prepared to, let time expire before he crossed the line, and not extended the race the extra lap.

            2. @markzastrow The end of the race on Saturday. No idea when you are referencing. (And I should have remembered that after being almost stationary for the part-lap to get it to 0:00, da Costa could then have gone faster for the other lap, restricted only by his energy remaining).

            3. @alianora-la-canta Well then we are on the same page—da Costa was only 15 seconds early to the line at the end of the race on Saturday. :)

            4. @markzastrow Yes.

              15 extra seconds would have required going a lot slower than he actually did (and no direct safety problems ensued from da Costa going at that speed).

              Thus, to cross at 0:00, da Costa would have had to have driven unnecessarily slowly.

              Driving unnecessarily slowly is against the regulations on safety grounds.

              Therefore, da Costa had to do what he did, whether Formula E race control likes it or not.

            5. @alianora-la-canta No, actually, the leader has every right to pace the field. As we’ve seen in F1 recently (Mugello), that can in fact lead to drivers jumping the gun and dangerous situations further down the pack — but Masi insisted that Bottas was well within his rights. So there is at least FIA consistency on this point.

            6. @markzastrow Only to the limit of “necessarily slow”, which applies at any time the cars are running.

    3. @keithcollantine, according to the link provided Brazil has actually the 10th worst death rate at present with 69.9 deaths per million people in the past 7 days. Of note is Hungary which actually has the worst death rate at the moment with 126.82 deaths per million in the past 7 days. So I think that sentence should be corrected.

      Therefore if the race in Brazil is to be cancelled, and I agree that it should if the situation there stays as it is now, much more should the race in Hungary be as well.

      1. @paulk Brazil has been the 2nd-highest in infection rates (preceded by the US) for a while, but you’re right about the link.

      2. @paulk I live in a country where death rates, according to some estimates, could’ve been underestimated in official figures roughly 29 times. We can’t look just at death rates, especially in developing countries, and especially in fast evolving conditions, where today’s infected could lead to a rise in death rates tomorrow due to lack of beds, oxygen, ventilators etc.

      3. @paulk It would not surprise me if similar conversations were had about Hungary closer to the time the race is scheduled. The main reason I think we’re not hearing them now is that dissent is being suppressed with the threat of long jail sentences, and the government line is that they have the virus under control as long as people continue to do as they are told.

        1. @alianora-la-canta

          Hungary has vaccinated half their population, so assuming that the vaccines actually work, then I expect that everyone who wants the vaccine will have been vaccinated by August.

          1. @aapje 1) False: 3.6 million have received one dose (not the necessary two, since Janssen 1-dose isn’t approved in Hungary yet), out of a population of 9.6 million. (Half the population would be 4.8 million receiving 2 doses; the actual 2-dose figure in Hungary is currently 1 million, or a little over 10%).

            Hungary hasn’t even received enough vaccine to give a shot to half its population, despite accepting 7 different vaccines (the most in the EU), so it can’t possibly have fully vaccinated half of them (to put it into perspective, the UK, which is still the fastest-vaccinating location in the EU, only reached “half the population had one shot of vaccine” this week. There’s a reason Hungary is one of the countries in the process of suing OxfordAstrazeneca for breach of delivery contract: it’s one of the countries where a lot more vaccines were due to be delivered at this point than have actually arrived. Also note for OxfordAstrazeneca that on its recommended vaccine schedule of 12-week separation (a shorter gap is a bit less effective), only people who have their first dose in the next 4 days, or who have already have it, can be fully vaccinated by August. (The other vaccines have more leeway due to their 3/4-week recommended dose separations).

            2) Variants with partial vaccine escape have emerged. So there’s no guarantee that currently-vaccinated people who are now immune will remain so.

            3) One cannot get immunity to a virus by wishing to not have a vaccine, so “everyone who wants vaccine to have been vaccinated”. Most Hungarians are unwilling to voluntarily use certain vaccines, to the point where the type of vaccine being used is having to be hidden in an effort to get vaccination done. Even with this measure, it’s not clear if the number of people willing to vaccinate with the vaccines actually available is sufficient to meet herd immunity requirements.

            4) Statistical manipulation. Positivity rates are rising, but the number of tests are falling. There’s also an incongruity between declared cases (falling a lot for the last month) and deaths (almost the same, even though the lag should be less than 21 days). Either COVID-19 suddenly became a lot more deadly in Hungary without the health authorities visibly reacting to it – or some COVID-19 cases are no longer being reported, that had been prior to April. (Even the UK’s done some of that too, so no blaming going on here, but it does mean we cannot simply look at the cases and assume Hungary’s going to be safe to visit by July).

            1. (Also, for clarification: the 1 million is a subset of the 3.6 million. They are not to be added together).

            2. @alianora-la-canta

              Hungary has administered 54 doses per 100 people, but you are right that this doesn’t equal half the population, due to double vaccinations. Still, they are going very fast, compared to the rest of the EU.

            3. @aapje Apparently Hungary’s managed 0.5 doses per million in the past 2 days (it’s now 54.5 doses per million), which is indeed very fast. It’s 8th-highest per-capita place in Europe (Gibraltar, Isle of Man, San Marino, Malta, Guernsey, UK and Monaco), but that should be read as the 5th-highest country in Europe because most other sources I’ve seen pool Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Guensey and UK together as one country.

      4. @paulk The figure referred to in the article is total deaths in the last seven days which according to that link is currently 16,115 for Brazil (I believe that has been revised upwards since I wrote this last night), with India second on 11,781. The figure you’re describing is adjusted for population, but if you read what I wrote, it’s obvious I wasn’t referring a figure of 69.9 per million as being “10,000 more” than anything else.

        Not that I disagree the situation isn’t bad elsewhere.

        1. @keithcollantine, I guess we have different definitions for the word “rate”. For me it always is a proportion, which in this case means the number is “adjusted for population”, but maybe that is just how people on my field of work use it.

      5. isthatglock21
        26th April 2021, 14:37

        Issue with Brazil is that promoters & even government will let it go ahead, so F1 has to make the hard decision to cancel it on its own more so than other GPs where there’s pressure domestically. Brazil still has mega travel restrictions & some of the biggest variant concerns, That could be what shuts the whole thing down if F1/FIA see it as a threat for UK teams not being allowed to freely go home without mega isolation in UK hotels etc. Also doubt the Aussies would be too happy being the next GP after Brazil.

    4. LeTissierMatt
      26th April 2021, 3:36

      AFAIK most of the paddock will be vaccinated by then (prolly all of the drivers are already), so i dont really see the harm.

      1. The Vaccine only REDUCES the severity of the virus, does NOT prevent it and this pandemic will NOT end soon.
        Also, with the ever mutations evolving, who can be sure how long before the vaccine is totally useless against the latter strains. Are we sure that Brazil, India etc can actually record accurately?

        If the AGP does happen, in one of the lower CoVid affected countries, then a double-header is a no-brainer.
        Realistically, F1 can save mega $$$ if it does not waste time/effort/logistics promoting GP’s outside Europe for, at least, 2-3 years.

        Totally agree with Andreas S., commonsense that ’22 cars will need extra pre-season testing.

        1. @ancient1 A double-header in Melbourne, a la Red Bull Ring, Silverstone, and Bahrain is undoable for one simple reason: It’s a temporary track.

          1. That certainly doesn’t make it impossible.
            Leaving everything in place for an extra week would not be the end of the world – the parkland roads are not major roads, and could still be opened from Monday to Thursday if necessary.

            The bigger reasons not to do it are hosting fees – F1 would want more for 2 races, and the quarantine period which may still have a negative effect on holding even one of them.
            As noted above – the virus is still around and mutating, and will definitely still be going strong in November.

            1. @ Easier said than done.

        2. @ancient1 Please don’t spread COVID myths. Vaccines do reduce the probability of getting the virus in the first place (by up to 95.5% depending on the vaccine and variant involved), as well as the risk of spreading it to others (by about 60%) not just reducing severity of the illness.

          I’m not 100% convinced the UK can record accurately (difficulties in obtaining vaccine tests persist for some segments of the population), so I doubt most other countries can either.

          F1 does not have the option of not promoting races in countries where it is currently contracted. If it tries that, it will lose all the money from those contracts, including any attached penalty fees, and then it still has to find places in its prescribed range willing to deal with a commercial organisation that just showed it doesn’t honour contract obligations. That would make F1 too expensive to keep in existence in fairly short order (i.e. before the point at which one would likely be confident in going to any country in the world with a Grade 1 track currently in existence).

      2. No, only some of the drivers are vaccinated. (I know 6 have been, others might have been, but some – notably the UK contingent, who can reasonably rely on when they’ll get called, are waiting their turn in their nation’s vaccine distribution system).

        Australia would need planning permission to leave Albert Park set up for an extra week, and the Australia Open rather tested the local goodwill necessary to achieve this.

        1. @alianora-la-canta 6, yes. PER, SAI, LEC, VER, GAS, and TSU. Tost indirectly revealed the last two, but yes, these are the ones known publically.
          Valid also the point about Albert Park. Pretty much why I replied ‘Easier said than done’ to S.

          1. The Victorian state government is paying for it – if they want it, they’ll make it happen.
            This is what governments do – push agendas.
            Personally I don’t think they want two, though – and finding sponsors for a second one at this stage would be a challenge.

            And given the gap between the Aus Open and the F1 this year – I don’t think one has any effect on the other. 9 months is a long time, and conditions have changed drastically since Feb.

            1. @S Governments have laws which they’re required to follow (in theory at least). In this case, even the government is required to obtain planning permission, and they’re not allowed to simply impose an event involving this much disruption to other people’s use of the area without going through long-established procedures.

              The effect I’m talking about is goodwill – and the conditions are if anything looking like they might be worse by November (thanks to news from the last few days from India, which is bad enough that an event I was due to attend in October, organised by and involving only people from Europe and the USA, has already re-postponed to 2022). You’re asking people to not protest something that is potentially more dangerous than the Australian Open (which appeared to cross locals’ threshold for the risk level they were willing to accept, once they saw how the athletes were treated), or assuming the government can simply ignore the law (granted some places can – I’d rather not cite examples to avoid inflaming the thread – but this does not look likely to be an example).

    5. Someone ran some CFD on the Williams CAD model leaked from the launching app:

      https://maxtayloraero.wordpress.com/2021/04/21/2021-williams-f1-cfd/

      1. @paulk wow, how on earth did they get ahold of that? Probably a lot of fun to play around with.

      2. Thanks for sharing that @paulk.
        Very interesting.

        Naturally, these numbers change dramatically with ride height. I’ve begun running a ride height map and I’ll make a separate post about that when all the runs are finished.

        Williams team might learn something ;)

    6. I wonder why this site never gives account to the historic races held at Monaco. Not that I care too much, it’s just curiosity. Is it because it’s nothing “official” or it’s too amateur-ish? The event itself is pretty cool

      1. I wondered this yesterday. I caught the last few minutes of a guy refusing to take his trophy. What was that about?

        1. He got a 15 second post-race penalty for punting Jean Alesi into the wall – even though it was clearly an issue with Alesi failing to accelerate away (as he had done easily in every acceleration zone for the entire race).

        2. He finished 1st on the road, but got a time penalty for hitting Jean Alesi who was leading at the time, however there was only really one camera view (from behind), so it wasn’t clear if he was actually at fault. Suggestion was the Alesi missed a gear, leaving him nowhere to go. Up to then, it had been a belting old school Monaco battle (slower car in front, but defending excellently). Really fun day of racing, was watching it live on twitch too, so plenty of banter in the chat.

      2. I watched some of it also, very enjoyable and it reaffirmed my belief that the racing was better then, even though the cars were slower, no rose-tinted spectacles required.

    7. Ricciardo was, of course, only joking, but a double-header in Melbourne is impractical because the track is temporary.
      If the number of events ended up becoming lower than 23, F1 would still survive as 23 isn’t the minimum requirement for anything, after all.

      1. @jerejj If, on the other hand, there’s a major problem with COVID variants and F1 drops to 14 rounds (we’ve already lost one and I now consider 5 other rounds various degrees of doubtful – the remaining 3 Americas rounds, Hungary and Japan), Liberty should consider the option. If it wants the relatively low-risk Melbourne to do this, it needs to start helping the local government bodies to ethically persuade local people to provide permission now.

        1. @alianora-la-canta For now, I’m not worried about Hungary, Japan, (or Singapore), nor even the US as much as last year. Brazil, definitely, and Mexico to a smaller extent. Time will tell.

    8. The Ranting Brummie
      26th April 2021, 8:31

      Just move Melbourne into Interlagos’s slot.

      Simples.

      1. @The Ranting Brummie Unless Mexico got cancelled too, forget it. Australia is too far away from Mexico for holding them on consecutive weekends. #ThinkBeforeSuggesting

        1. @jerejj I now think there’s a high chance Mexico (and USA before it) will be cancelled, so this is plausible,

        2. I don’t use hashtags, by the way.

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