Formula 1 has outlined the differences there will be between a normal event and the reduced numbers that will be present at the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix.
On Tuesday, an initial eight-race calendar was confirmed for the opening rounds of the 2020 season in Europe, with further flyaway races set to be finalized from September onwards as F1 targets an overall 15-18 events. In order to try and make the return to racing as safe as possible, the first events will be marked by significantly reduced access, with F1 offering a comparison compared to the numbers that are on site under regular conditions :
- Zero spectators, compared to on average 150,000 spectators over a three-day event
- Zero guests in the F1 Paddock, compared to the usual 3,000
- 1,200 essential personnel in total compared to a usual range of 3,000 – 5,000, including 80 personnel per Formula 1 team compared to 130 for usual events
- 60 broadcast personnel compared to the usual 250+, made possible due to F1’s plans to operate a remote broadcast operation
Unlike in Australia, where the race was called off due to a lack of planning for a positive case of COVID-19 when a McLaren team member was confirmed as having the virus, the sport is also confident any new infections are unlikely, but that they can be isolated and treated if a case is detected.
“F1 has learnt a lot since Australia, and procedures and safeguards are now in place to reduce the chances of anyone infected traveling to a race.
“New procedures, such as pre-testing, regular testing, screening, sealed travel and social distancing will make this a less likely scenario and F1 are confident their plans will manage this risk. However, there is a robust infection response plan in place, if required, like many other returning sports competitions.
“In the event of a positive case F1 are fully confident that the procedures and team segregation will allow swift and effective contact tracing across a small group and rapid testing will be provided to determine the risk of infection and isolate it immediately.”
While the calendar announcement also stated all the races are currently scheduled to be held without fans, there will be no changes to television broadcasting plans as a result.
“F1 has existing contracts in place for broadcast and it is right we honor those commitments with our long-term partners,” read a statement.
“Silverstone will host two events, with one of those events available live as Free-to-air (FTA) within the UK. Each market situation is different and has comprehensive highlight packages to complement the live broadcast of the races.”