Austrian GP could be staged safely - Brawn

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Formula 1 motorsport boss Ross Brawn thinks the Austrian’s Spielberg circuit has all the ’ingredients’ that are necessary to create a safe racing environment.

Although the expectations for the coming season were high, the coronavirus pandemic has put the 2020 F1 championship on hold. As it was difficult to assess the exact shape of the COVID-19 outbreak at first, the field travelled to Melbourne for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix. After a team member of the McLaren outfit had tested positive for the coronavirus, the sport decided to call off the usually exciting rush around the Albert Park.

With the situation getting worse in the following day, the World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic. Similar to other motorsport disciplines, F1 has also been forced to postpone or cancel the first phase of the 2020 season. Although the current situation has hardly shown any significant signs of improvements, governments have started to ease the restrictions to avoid any irreversible impacts of the pandemic on economics.

Formula 1 also intends to get its 2020 season up and running in Summer. The sport’s Chairman and CEO Chase Carey indicated in an open letter to fans that the first race is set to be staged in Spielberg, Austria on July 5.

In the first episode of the brand-new fantastic podcast F1 Nation that has just been launched on the sport’s official website, Ross Brawn was asked about the way the sport wants to kickstart the 2020 season. The Briton said that Liberty Media has already established a thorough plan to create a safe racing environment for the start of the new season.

“One of the logistical challenges is getting everyone tested and cleared to enter the racing environment. 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 pretty challenging to find the right sort of races early on where we can control the environment well enough to ensure the safety of everyone. Austria fits that bill very well. It has a local airport right next to the circuit, where people can charter planes into. It’s not too close to a metropolis.

While Austria, Great Britain and Hungary have expressed their willingness to host races in these difficult times, races in other venues are still in doubt as a result of the uncertainty revolving around the coronavirus outbreak and the way it could evolve in the coming months. Brawn also confirmed that it is very much possible that Spielberg could stage two races as once a safe environment has been created, it could be kept for a few days.

“It has a great infrastructure around it, for instance, there will be no motorhomes, but there will be full catering facility laid on that the circuit has. We can contain everyone within that environment and therefore once we are there it is appealing to have another race the following week.”

“It’s a massive logistical challenge because running a Formula 1 race is a big challenge anyway. Running a Formula 1 race in the circumstances is something which is new to all of us and we’re working through all the requirements to make sure 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.

Although Ferrari’s former technical director who worked for the Scuderia during one of the most successful periods of the fabled Italian outfit regrets that the first races could be held behind closed doors, he stressed that the sport needs to begin to guarantee the financial well-being of the teams.

“It’s important for us to try and get the season going, many reasons for wanting to start the season. One is to excite the fans, who have all been frustrated with the delays. We have a very exciting season in front of us, but it is a very important livelihood for thousands of people - and that is another reason for trying to kickstart the season," Brawn concluded.