Formula One is the latest sport to announce that it is returning again, with eight European races announced, beginning in Austria on July 5th.
Originally due to start with the Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne on March 15th, the season was suspended indefinitely because of the coronavirus pandemic. But now races to be held in Europe have been given provisional dates, with more to come later in the year in the Americas, Asia, and the Middle East.
All races will take places behind closed doors – at least initially – and the teams involved have all agreed to follow an extensive set of protocols, which include specific measures related, inter alia, to hotels, travel, food, and the behaviour of staff at the race track. Anybody caught infringing these rules risks having their accreditation withdrawn and exclusion from circuits.
However, whilst the number of people travelling with the ten teams will be slimmed down it is still expected some 1,200 people – comprising drivers, race engineers, mechanics, pit crew and other key team members – will be travelling from venue to venue. And that is not taking into account the people that the various circuits will need to employ to make sure that the races can be staged safely.
Teams will fly everywhere in special charter flights and will be isolated in hotels to try and avoid contact with the local populace. There will be regular testing of all staff for Covid-19 but, in the event somebody tests positive, only they will need to quarantine themselves. Teams will have the option to replace them if they so desire.
The first two races will be staged in Austria on consecutive weekends before the circus makes the short journey to Hungary. After a two week break, the action will move to the UK – where seven out of the ten teams are based anyway – for two races at the Silverstone circuit.
Three more races – in Spain, Belgium and Italy – have also been scheduled, although F1 organisers emphasise, they are still subject to cancellation in case of a sudden deterioration of the health situation in any of the countries concerned.