With the COVID-19 pandemic still being in its peak in many countries around the world, Formula One is looking into possibilities of getting the season started. Recently talks about hosting a few races on track like Silverstone and Austria has been proposed, with the idea to hold the races behind closed doors. Currently Austria is going through the lifting of lockdown restrictions, and the government expressed it “wont stand in the way” of the GP happening in the beginning of July.
The beginning of the 2020 season has been abruptly called off in Australia, and additional 9 races have been either postponed or cancelled. F1 is investigating precautions it could impose to make sure the health risks are minimised, and recently the idea of having races on empty circuits with minimal staff has been proposed. Additionally, now an idea has been in the talks that the teams could be isolated from each other in the paddock. The assumption is that the teams would have to limit their staff that would come to the races, all of the team members would have to be tested for the COVID-19 prior to arrival and the teams would be places as far from each other as its possible.
When it comes to races behind closed doors, Charles Leclerc, the driver of Scuderia Ferrari expressed that although its a good idea, it definitely wont feel the same like a “regular” GP would.
As he said: “It will definitely not feel like a normal race because during a race weekend you can really feel the support of the fans, you can see them, you can hear them. So it is different, [they] cheer you up whenever you have bad times and it will cheer you up even more when you have good times because they are happy for you. So it is going to be very different.”
He added: “But I definitely think it’s better than nothing. So if we can start like this in a safe way for everyone, then I think it’s a good way to start the season as it will entertain the people first that are home. And obviously it will also help us to get back into the car, which is what we are all missing the most. But the priority should be to do it in safety.”
Answering the recent proposal to hold races with no spectators, Uberto Selvatico Estense, the president of Imola circuit said that they’re willing to host an F1 race behind closed doors if the situation in Italy will improve in the coming months. If that would indeed happen, then it would be the first F1 race at Imola since the last San Marino GP in 2006. Despite the hard and unknown situation with the 2020 season, many expressed that having races in 2020 is “critical”, due to the massive financial hits the teams were exposed to with the lack of racing. Many of the “smaller” teams have found themselves struggling tin the current situation, and many have furloughed it’s staff and implemented other cost-saving measures.
As recently said by Claire Williams, the deputy principal of Williams: “We have to wait obviously until the time is right to it's safe to do so. It's an incredibly tough environment that F1 finds itself in right now. We have spent so much time locked into meetings, the team principals together with the FIA and F1, over the past four weeks to ensure we do absolutely everything we need to do to make sure all of us come out of this at the end of this year unscathed”
She added: ”Clearly big part of that is about when we are able to go racing again, particularly for a team like ours. We're one of the true independents left, we don't have the backing that the majority of our competitors have up and down the grid.For us, going racing is absolutely critical this year. But as I said, it has to be when it's safe to do so.”
Currently there is still not a clear-cut answer to when exactly the season will, or if it actually at all will start. The question is also that if the racing will finally come back, will it do so with all of the teams from the grid.