Max Verstappen of Red Bull at pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain, February 19, 2020. /VCG

Max Verstappen of Red Bull at pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain, February 19, 2020. /VCG

The Formula One season will eventually get started this weekend after it was delayed by the pandemic when a McLaren employee tested positive for COVID-19 right before Australian Grand Prix in March.  

The revised schedule sees two races at Austria’s Red Bull Ring before moving to Hungary and then Britain. 

McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl is confident about the upcoming race. “The approach is clear: If someone is positive he needs to be isolated from the team and obviously can’t continue. but for everyone else who is not affected or is negative, they can simply keep going.”

He also revealed that all his team members have tested negative so far. 

A Renault truck is seen next to the Formula One race track in Spielberg, Austria, June 30, 2020. /VCG

A Renault truck is seen next to the Formula One race track in Spielberg, Austria, June 30, 2020. /VCG

The races will be held without spectators or sponsors present while teams operate in “bubbles” with strict health and safety conditions and media kept at a distance. 

Team members will be tested every five days and will also have to maintain self distancing and wear face masks in the paddock.  

The teams, who will fly in on charter planes and remain isolated in their hotels, will not mix with locals or rival outfits, with key groups kept isolated within teams to limit any spread. 

All the teams have backup staff on standby, tested and ready to step in if needed. 

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc during day one of pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain, February 20, 2020. /VCG

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc during day one of pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain, February 20, 2020. /VCG

Ferrari redesigned flawed F1 car 

Meanwhile, Ferrari have had a major rethink of their 2020 Formula One car but updates to make it go faster will not be ready until the third race in Hungary on July 19, team boss Mattia Binotto said on Tuesday. 

Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc will instead start the COVID-19 delayed season in Austria on Sunday in cars similar to those they wrapped up testing with in Spain at the end of February. 

“The truth is that the outcome of the tests led us to take a significant change of direction in terms of development, especially on the aerodynamic front,” Binotto said on the Ferrari website. 

Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto during day two of F1 Winter Testing at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain, February 20, 2020. /VCG

Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto during day two of F1 Winter Testing at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain, February 20, 2020. /VCG

He said that Ferrari had used the weeks since the Maranello factory reopened to analyze the car’s behavior with simulation work and input from the drivers. 

“We know that, at the moment, we don’t have the fastest package. We knew it before heading for Melbourne and that hasn’t changed,” said Binotto. 

“In Austria, we must try and make the most of every opportunity and then in Hungary… we will be able to see where we are really compared to the others.”

Champions Mercedes and also Red Bull looked faster in testing, with Ferrari coming away from Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya recognizing they lacked comparative pace. 

Both Mercedes, the team of six times world champion Lewis Hamilton, and Red Bull have subsequently added performance upgrades. 

Renault F1 Team Reserve Driver Sergey Sirotkin during Practice Day at F1 Mexican Grand Prix in Mexico, October 25, 2019. /VCG

Renault F1 Team Reserve Driver Sergey Sirotkin during Practice Day at F1 Mexican Grand Prix in Mexico, October 25, 2019. /VCG

F1 reserve drivers’ role important amid pandemic 

Meanwhile, Russian Sergey Sirotkin will be on standby in Austria this weekend after Renault announced on Tuesday they had retained him as their Formula One reserve driver. 

The role has come into the spotlight more with the possibility of drivers being ruled out by the virus. 

Renault’s race drivers are Australian Daniel Ricciardo and Frenchman Esteban Ocon. 

“I understand the importance for a team to have a driver ready to fill in quickly should the opportunity arise, especially given the current situation the world is in,” Sirotkin,  24, raced for Williams in 2018 and filled the Renault reserve role in 2017 and 2019, said in a statement. 

(With input from Reuters)

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here