Formula 1’s season starting with two consecutive races in Austria is a very attractive proposition, according to managing director of motorsports Ross Brawn.
A statement from F1 CEO and chairman Chase Carey at the start of this week confirmed that the sport hopes to start the season in Austria on July 5 with a race behind closed doors. RACER understands that would include the absolute minimum number of personnel required to put on and broadcast a race, as well as regular testing and private transport for all those involved. If F1 is able to create a virus-free environment at the Red Bull Ring, Brawn says the temptation will be to remain in place for a second race on the following weekend.
“It’s a real consideration because one of the logistical challenges is getting everyone tested and cleared to enter the paddock, to enter the racing environment,” Brawn told the official F1 podcast. “I think once we do that it’s very attractive to keep everyone in that environment – within that biosphere that we want to create – for another race.
“It’s also very challenging to find the right sort of races early on where we can control the environment well enough and Austria fits that bill very well. It’s got a local airport right next to the circuit where people can charter planes into, it’s not too close to a metropolis, it has a great infrastructure around it. For instance, there would be no motorhomes, but there would be a full catering facility laid on that the circuit has.
“So we can basically contain everyone within that environment, and therefore once we’re there it’s appealing to have another race the following week.”
NASCAR has already committed to a similar plan by hosting multiple races at Darlington and Charlotte in the middle of May, and while Brawn accepts there are even bigger hurdles due to F1’s need to cross borders, he said there are multiple reasons why the sport is keen to race even under significant restrictions.
“It’s a massive logistical challenge as you can imagine, because running a Formula 1 race is a big challenge anyway,” he said. “Running a Formula 1 race in these circumstances is something which is new to all of us, and we’re working our way through all the requirements to ensure we operate in a safe environment for the drivers, for the engineers, for the technicians – for everyone involved in the race – and we put on the right sort of show. Unfortunately it will be without fans, which is a great shame, but we still feel that we can take the race out to all the fans that watch us on TV and by other means.
“It’s important for us to try and get the season going. There are many reasons for wanting to start the season. One is obviously to excite the fans – we’ve all been frustrated with the delays, we’ve got a very exciting season in front of – but it’s also a very important livelihood for thousands of people. That’s another reason for trying to kick-start the season.”