Restarting the Formula 1 season after Europe has spent so long in lockdown is going to feel strange, according to Racing Point team principal Otmar Szafnauer.
F1 will get its 2020 season underway with a tripleheader of races, the first two being held at the Red Bull Ring in Austria on July 5 and 12 before another round in Hungary on July 19. The teams were last able to travel to an event in Australia in March.
“I think it’s going to feel strange for all of us to be getting on an airplane, flying to a different country and heading to a racetrack after such a long time away,” Szafnauer said. “The setup when we get to the paddock will feel very different too initially, I’m sure – but just as we’ve all adapted to this new normality at home, I’m confident we’ll do so on the road.
“The processes and procedures we’ve implemented to keep everybody safe at the factory will apply just as stringently, if not more so, at the racetrack, so we’re in the best shape we can be.”
Despite facing eight races in 10 weeks, Szafnauer is impressed with the work F1 has done to put together an initial European calendar, something he says will help keep the teams in business.
“First and foremost, on a personal level and on behalf of the team, I applaud the work that has been done by all stakeholders over the past three months to get us back racing,” he said. “Safety is paramount and we’re all treating our return to the racetrack responsibly.
“While clearly it won’t be the same without the fans in the grandstands – and we’ll sorely miss their enthusiasm and support – it’s entirely sensible to start the season behind closed doors. Doing so in Austria is particularly positive for us as a team given our ties to the country with BWT, so we’re very much looking forward to it.
“It’s going to be an intense few months for us all. But a great deal of thought has gone into this calendar from all relevant stakeholders – including the teams, Formula 1, the FIA, the circuit owners and so on. We’re all in agreement that the proposed plan is manageable and, knowing what I know of our team, they’ll relish the challenge. At the end of the day, we’re all racers. This is our passion, and we’re excited to get back to it.”