Formula One managing director Ross Brawn has outlined plans for the sport to resume in an isolated environment and suggested it could begin with a double-header at Austria’s Red Bull Ring in early July.
Following Friday’s announcement that the Hungarian Grand Prix will take place behind closed doors if it goes ahead at the start of August, Brawn said the sport is drawing up detailed plans to ensure races can be staged safely amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s a massive logistical challenge,” Brawn said on the official F1 Nation podcast. “Running an F1 race is a big challenge anyway. Running an F1 race in these circumstances is new to all of us.
Former team boss Ross Brawn is now Formula One’s managing director (David Davies/PA)
“We’re working our way through all the requirements to make sure we operate in a safe environment for everyone involved in the race.”
Earlier this week, F1’s chief executive Chase Carey outlined plans to start the season with the Austrian Grand Prix on July 5 and Brawn said the characteristics of Spielberg’s Red Bull Ring – located in central Austria two hours south-west of Vienna – meant it could host back-to-back races.
“It’s a real consideration because one of the logistical challenges is getting everyone tested and cleared to enter the paddock and enter the racing environment,” he said.
“And I think once we do that, it’s very attractive to keep everyone in that environment, within that kind of 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.
“Austria fits that bill very well. It’s got a local airport right next to the circuit, where people can charter planes into. It’s not too close to a metropolis, it has a great infrastructure around it.
“There will be no motorhomes, but there will be a full catering facility laid on that the circuit has. So we can basically contain everyone within that environment. Therefore once we’re there, it’s appealing to have another race the following week.”
At a time when a number of Formula One teams have furloughed staff, Brawn argued it was important for the season to get going because of the number of jobs it sustained.
“[There are] many reasons for wanting to start the season,” he said.
“One is obviously to excite the fans, who have all been frustrated by the delays. We’ve got a very exciting season in front of us. But it’s a very important livelihood for thousands of people, it’s another reason for trying to kick-start the season…
“I’m sure (the drivers) miss it and they will support these moves we’re making with the understanding it is done properly, there will be no risk taken and it will all be done in the correct way.”
Friday’s announcement from the Hungaroring came after the Hungarian government said that no event in front of more than 500 people can take place before August 15, with the Grand Prix scheduled for August 2.
A statement from the Hungaroring read: “The health and well-being of all our fantastic Formula 1 fans, staff and championship participants has been and remains our primary concern throughout this period and with that in mind we have regrettably been left with no choice but to reach this conclusion.
“We have continuously emphasised our willingness to work towards a safe solution that would allow us to welcome the entire Formula 1 family to the Hungaroring this August but yesterday it became evident that any F1 race in Hungary can now only be held behind closed doors.”
Earlier this week, Silverstone announced that the British Grand Prix would be behind closed doors if it is able to go ahead as scheduled on July 19.
F1 officials are drawing up a revised calendar with the goal of staging between 15 and 18 races this year. So far 10 Grands Prix have either been postponed or cancelled due to the pandemic.