Formula One’s plan to finally start the season in Austria on July 5 includes very strict guidelines which will limit the risk of coronavirus infection, Red Bull boss Christian Horner said yesterday. Red Bull owns the Spielberg track where F1 hopes to get going behind closed doors after 10 races were postponed or cancelled due to the pandemic.
“Of course the screening and testing and the restrictions that are going to be in place are going to be pretty draconian, but if it allows the sport to start up again, I think it will be a blueprint for other circuits to follow,” Horner told Autosport.com. “I think when we do get going again, it’s going to be like creating a tight group of people, probably less than 80 people within a team, and they’re all going to have to stay in the same hotel, they’re all going to have to travel together, and they are not going to be able to interface with other teams.”
Horner said there would also be rules against interacting with the local community as well, meaning the only time people will come close to each other at a race will be helmeted drivers in their cars on the track.
“I think that there are going to be procedures in place that are designed to protect most of the competitors, and also take the necessary precautions for the hosts of these races as well, so it’s not going to be a standard grand prix format by any shape or form,” he added.
The Austrian government has begun lifting a lockdown and has indicated it would not stop an Austrian Grand Prix at this stage if the sport comes up with a viable concept for preventing coronavirus infections.
F1 is even considering a double header of races without fans in Spielberg. The rules say a world championship needs a minimum of eight races, with the sport’s bosses seeing if they can squeeze in 18 somehow this year — only four races less than the original schedule which was due to start in Australia in March.
A new calendar is expected soon. However, some paddock insiders are still not convinced that racing will start in July, with travel restrictions seen as one major issue. The Spielberg track though has a private airport very close by. Even if developments in the Covid-19 outbreak mean July 5 is too early to start the season, Horner is convinced there will be races at some point.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner.