In his post-race column, Formula One motorsport boss Ross Brawn said that the long-awaited start to the delayed and curtailed 2020 F1 season has been a success despite the safety meaures that have been put in place due to the coronavirus outbreak.
After a team member of McLaren had tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Australia, the original season-opening event, Formula One had to call off the first grand prix of the 2020 season. The global development of the COVID-19 situation put the season on hold which led to cancellation or the postponements of the ten grands prix.
In the shutdown period, Formula One and the FIA worked tirelessly with local authorities and race promoters to get the championship going which was necessary to promote the financial well-being of the teams and organisations involved in the Formula 1 World Championship.
The rearrangement of the calendar led to a condensed schedule that currently features three triple-headers. The first one saw the field compete in Austria twice and Hungary over a time frame of three weekends. Ross Brawn is proud of the way how the sport has managed to kick-off the 2020 season, becoming the first international sport to get going after the coronavirus-induced delay.
„I’m absolutely delighted with this season starting in the way it has, and commend F1, the FIA, the promoters, teams and all the support staff for the tremendous hard work and the responsible approach they took to get the show back on the road.
„It's been great to finally have racing back after a long wait. We are the first international sport to get going, and we can be proud – but we can’t be complacent. This virus is something we will be facing in different forms and different ways for quite some time. There are massive challenges ahead of us, but I’m encouraged by what I have seen. It’s great to see racing back. I had forgotten how much I missed it.
„Moving forward, we will be adaptable, as every country we are set to visit presents a different challenge. We will continue to work hard to ensure the highest levels of safety for our staff, but for now, I think we should be proud of what we have achieved and the three brilliant Grands Prix we have enjoyed.”
While the season started without any problems despite the strict measures that have been put in place due the to coronavirus outbreak, the Racing Point team has caused a stir with its 2020 car, the RP20. The Silverstone-based team strengthened its cooperation with the dominant Mercedes team last year, starting to working in its wind tunnel facility.
However, Racing Point has raised eyebrows when they introduced their car in Austria in February and hit the track at the pre-season testing at Barcelona. The RP20 showed lots of similarities with Mercedes’ 2019 car, the W10 with many started to refer to Racing Point’s current car as Pink Mercedes.
„There have always been teams that punched above their weight in Formula 1 – and Racing Point are the latest team to achieve the feat. They showed huge promise early in the weekend, and I am sure they will be disappointed not to convert that promise into a podium.
„But when you’re at the front, when you are with the big boys, everyone punishes your mistakes. Every movement and decision is critical. They have to adjust to being at the front end of grid. But that in itself is a measure of how far they’ve come this season.”
After the Racing Point has established itself as the second-fastest team behind the works Mercedes outfit at the opening three grands prix, rivals started to express their dissatisfaction concerning the collaboration of the Silverstone and the Brackley based outfits. Renault lodged an official protest regarding the legality of the RP20, handing in a 30-page document to the FIA, claiming that the front and rear brake ducts are identical to the ones of the W10.
Ferrari’s former technical director indicated that copying in Formula One is a normal procedure that every team does and it will be the FIA’s task to decide whether Racing Point stayed in the confines of the Sporting Regulations.
„They have made the headlines off track, too, with Renault protesting the legality of the car. My view is copying in Formula 1 is standard. Every team has, in normal times, digital photographers in the pit lane out there taking thousands of photos of every car for analysis, with a view of copying the best ideas. We used to give our photographers a shopping list.
„Racing Point have just taken it to the next stage and done a more thorough job. There is not a single team in this paddock which has not copied something from another. I’d ask every Technical Director in the paddock to raise their hand if they haven’t copied someone else. You won’t see any hands. I have certainly copied others.
„Last year, Racing Point had access to, and could use, 2019-spec Mercedes brake ducts because they were not a listed part. This year, brake ducts are listed parts, so you have to design your own. However, Racing Point cannot forget the knowledge they acquired using the 2019 Mercedes brake ducts. I think it is illogical to think they can wipe their memory banks. It is a tricky problem and one for the FIA experts to resolve,” Brawn concluded.