Bubble-wrapped — Formula One’s masked men keep their distance
In the unlikely scenario of Romain Grosjean sweeping to a podium finish at Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix, he demands forgiveness should he break the coronavirus health protocols put in place at the Red Bull Ring.
“We will want to jump into the arms of the team,” the Haas team’s French driver said.
“So there are times when there may be things that are not going to be 100% controlled, but we will try to stay as close as possible to the rules.”
The Formula One season, which suffered a false start in March, finally gets under way this weekend in Spielberg after a break for the coronavirus pandemic, which lasted more than three months.
The sport’s new world was very much in evidence on Thursday.
To allow the season to start, F1 now operates in a system of “bubbles”, isolating the paddocks from the outside world but also keeping those inside at a safe distance.
For the 2,000-3,000 people allowed to enter the circuit, they must be negative for Covid-19, be tested again every five days and pass several checkpoints, including having temperatures checked.
In the paddock, two metres must be kept between individuals while there is a single direction of traffic. Face masks are worn during each contact or movement.
Movements everywhere are strictly controlled. The 20 or so journalists, for example, are confined to the media centre offering a panoramic view of the circuit. It is from here that they follow the press conferences via video taking place three floors below.
Lewis Hamilton, chasing a record-equalling seventh world title, said he was getting used to life in the bubble.
The Mercedes driver was “impressed” with what he had seen and hailed “a good environment in which to work”.
He will need to get used to it as the Red Bull Ring will also host the second race of the season next weekend. — AFP
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