MEDLAND: Can F1 follow NASCAR’s lead for a 2020 relaunch?

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While NASCAR is back in action and IndyCar has set its sights on a June 6 start, Formula 1 has yet to announce its calendar for 2020, and that’s certainly not a surprise.

As IndyCar’s ever-changing schedule shows, there are still no guarantees when it comes to trying to push ahead with a season during a cautious re-opening from COVID-19 shutdown measures. It’s more than just opting for a few potential dates: it’s ensuring that if there is going to be a huge effort to host one race, then a full season will follow.

July 5 at the Red Bull Ring remains the firm target to get F1 back on track, with no testing beforehand. A pair of races in Austria were then supposed to be followed by a similar doubleheader at Silverstone on July 26 and August 2 but things don’t seem to be going to plan right now.

The problem revolves around a United Kingdom government restriction on new arrivals in the UK. Yes, it might seem crazy, but after not requiring people arriving in the country to isolate or similar during the height of the pandemic in Europe, the government is set to impose a mandatory 14-day quarantine period for arrivals by air – just as neighboring countries are seeing improvements in their own infection figures.

This poses a huge problem for Formula 1, with seven of the 10 teams and also so much of the sport’s organization itself being based in the UK.

UK sports have been taking matters into their own hands in order to try and restart as soon as possible. By investing in testing and protective equipment – from avenues not used by the health service, they insist – they are working to make their own industries as safe as possible.

F1 is confident its internal measures can provide an adequate measure of protection, but will that be enough to satisfy government edicts, and public opinion? Image by Sam Bloxham/Motorsport Images

In F1’s case, the “biosphere” that Ross Brawn talks about is intended to be free of COVID-19, with testing from the outset of all those who would travel. While you’ll never make any situation 100% safe, by ensuring everyone traveling is virus-free and isolating the sport to the greatest extent possible, the number of people outside of that bubble that can come into contact with those in it is extremely low, and therefore both the threat of infection and of spread is significantly lowered, too.

Add in the regular testing, and the theory is that you will quickly identify and fully isolate anyone who might still somehow pick up the virus, while also being able to treat them efficiently. As the chairman of the FIA medical commission Professor Gerard Saillant told Sky Sports this week, it is no longer a health issue, and more an image one.

“I think the situation is quite different between Melbourne and Austria now,” Saillant said. “The knowledge of the virus is quite different. It is possible to prevent and to anticipate a lot of things. If we have one positive case, or maybe even 10, it is…

Read More: MEDLAND: Can F1 follow NASCAR’s lead for a 2020 relaunch? 2020-05-21 15:12:25

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