F1 2020: Races to go ahead even if a driver tests positive for COVID-19
The 2020 Formula 1 season calendar has been thrown into chaos because of the Coronavirus pandemic. While event organisers have had to cease operations for a number of motorsport events during the course of the lockdown, those restrictions are slowly being lifted, and Formula 1 plans to return to action with the Austrian GP on July 5. The delayed season start in Austria will merely be the first of eight European rounds that will be held across three months. The series remains hopeful of hosting 15 to 18 races over the course of the 2020 season, with Formula 1 boss Chase Carey saying that there is no pressure or deadline to finalise the calendar for the sport's 2020 season.
Lewis Hamilton leads from Kimi Raikkonen at the 2018 Italian Grand Prix
But what of the procedures that will be put in place for the first eight rounds of the championship in Europe? After all, the McLaren team pulled out of what was meant to be the first race of the 2020 season after a team member tested positive for COVID-19. Well, Chase Carey, CEO of the Formula 1 Group, has said that the racing will go ahead irrespective of individuals within the paddock testing positive for COVID-19, and no further races are likely to be cancelled. F1 teams are likely to have to resort to the services of their reserve drivers if the need arises.
Carey said, "An individual having been found with a positive infection will not lead to a cancellation of a race." F1 is fully prepared to conduct the races whilst taking protective measures to ensure the safety of the drivers, staff members and team members. "We wouldn't be going forward if we were not highly confident we have necessary procedures and expertise and capabilities to provide a safe environment and manage whatever issues arrive," he added.
The F1 authorities have put together a guideline dossier of over 80 pages that ensures the safety of drivers, team members and staff involved. The initial races will be conducted without spectators. The guideline also explains the process for travel, testing, meals and track behaviour. Teams will operate in 'bubbles' adhering to social distancing norms.
Carey said, "There is a rigorous set of guidelines, probably at this point it's 80-90 pages, which will include everything from how do you travel there, what are the processes for being in hotels there to what are the processes that exist at the track, for meals, going to the restroom, downtime between tracks and testing processes. We will test before you go there, then there will be testing every two days. There are processes if we find an infection. We recognise there is the possibility so we're prepared to appropriately deal with it. We're working on putting in place tracking capabilities, we have two different tracking options."
Carey has stated that he is confident of conducting the races and that with protective measures and safety protocols in place, F1 will certainly be able to minimise the risk of the virus as far as possible and complete the races.