F1 “should be very proud” but not complacent after first Closed Events

2020 F1 season

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Formula 1 race director Michael Masi says the sport can be proud of how it has adjusted to racing amid the Covid-19 pandemic, but cannot afford to become complacent.

The first 10 races on the 2020 F1 calendar were cancelled or postponed due to the outbreak, following which the sport agreed new rules to allow races to go ahead as ‘Closed Events’. This meant closing the venue to spectators, permitting only minimal race staff to attend and segregating teams from each other to minimise the danger of spreading any infection.

Masi said he was pleased with the smooth running of the first three races under the new restrictions in Austria and Hungary.

“I think as a sport and as an industry, we should be very proud of what we have achieved over these first three events,” he said after Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

“Considering the time that we’ve had collectively between the FIA and together with F1 in developing the return to racing plan, the methods, the protocols, the support from everyone throughout the pit lane, journalists, support categories has been fantastic. So I think as an industry we should be extremely proud of what we have achieved.

“Yes, it’s been a learning experience for all of us. There’s been minor tweaks along the way. But overall as a process and as a structure I think we’re about there so I’m quite proud of what we’ve done.”

Those who attended the opening three races were tested for Covid-19 every five days. Despite conducting over 4,000 tests per week, only two positive cases were detected. These occured ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix, and did not disrupt the running of the event.

“There’s certainly a level of confidence,” said Masi, adding, “not to be complacent is probably the big part” for the sport.

“The fact that we have got through the three events with only the two cases, but effectively outside of the paddock, one thing that we all need to be conscious of is that Covid-19 is very much around us and everywhere globally.

“So we can’t just drop the ball getting to Silverstone and think we’re invincible. The only thing that I can say is that my biggest fear is people becoming complacent. We just need to stick with the process that we’ve developed.”

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 8 comments on “F1 “should be very proud” but not complacent after first Closed Events”

    1. Interesting contrast to the view given from Silverstone Marshalls in the article from today’s roundup.

      1. Masi appears to exist in a separate bubble from the riff-raff volunteers. In a bubble where rules are subject to baffling displays of insular interpretation.

    2. Pedro Andrade
      25th July 2020, 10:29

      F1 has nothing to be proud about given what we have learned from the Silverstone marshals. These are unpaid volunteers without whom the race could not go ahead, the bare minimum F1 could do is provide them with COVID tests to ensure their (and everyone else’s) safety.

    3. There’s times when the best trick going is the only trick going, and maybe the only trick worth knowing. So the problem with not testing the Marshalls is it isn’t the best trick going, nor is not testing the only trick going, and it seems to be the trick isn’t the best trick worth knowing.

    4. Considering that so little is known about the virus and just today a new local infection was reported in Vietnam. I would hope that pride should be shelved and extreme caution be the rule of the day.

    5. The second race I actually didn’t realize there were no one in the stands until well into it. Tough to say, but goes to show how little they matter to the 99+% of F1 viewers, and how by extension it’s the same for the engine sound argument, or any other that just counts for the trackside crowd.

    6. Not sure it should fall on the FIA to test local track staff. Shouldn’t that be on the local Grand Prix organisers? I don’t know about UK but in Aus we have the AGPA who handles the hiring of all staff/volunteers and CAMS would organise the Marshalls.

      F1 and FIA has enough going on protecting the travelling circus…

      If you can commit to having a GP you should commit to testing of local support staff imo…

    7. It is what it is

      Formula One is still fascinating even with having to run these Covid races. Seems like the challenge of this racing is still very complicated and has had some refreshing exciting moments so far. The teams all had chances to build a better 2020 car and the field has been stirred up but the best smell coming out of the pot still remains to be a Mercedes Flavor.
      Look racing all over the world has been affected and each level of Motorsport has done well to provide racing the drivers want and that the fans miss so badly.
      I think F1 is as good as ever. All we need is to get back to a regular season if and when that happens. I think Mercedes will continue to dominate this generation of car until the 2022 cars are born. What’s to say they may slide through three back to back generations and win again with a the new car in 22? Also hated the all black Mercedes at first as the silver car was such a fantastic appearing machine. But now the Black looks even scarier. This Mercedes will be what is seen in the history books as the dominant Grand Prix car in the 21st century so far.

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