FIA president Jean Todt says he is “very proud” of the example Formula 1 has set by successfully restarting its 2020 championship amid the global pandemic.2020 F1 season has faced unprecedented disruption since the outbreak of Covid-19. Having originally planned a 22-round championship beginning in March, the season eventually began four months later.
While many races have been called off, including most of the non-European rounds, the reorganisation and addition of new events means F1 is on course to hold as many as 18 grands prix by the end of the year.
Todt said F1 has reaped the benefit of a pro-active effort to return to racing, instead of taking the “easy decision” of saying “let’s wait until things get better”.
“Formula 1 was the first international series to start again with very strict protocols,” said Todt in response to a question from RaceFans. “And it has been a global example again of motivation, of engagement to restart racing.
“I read also that ‘you do that for money’. For me, it’s wrong. You do that because life has to go back as much as possible to normal taking into consideration that the virus is there.
“It has been the life before which we all know. Nobody was predicting that we could live this kind of situation and now we need to learn with this virus.”
He praised F1’s “creative” approach to rebuilding its calendar by arranging consecutive races at the same track, and adding circuits which were not originally part of the calendar, which in some cases have never held grands prix before.
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“To have Formula 1 being the leader and being very creative to rebuild the whole calendar, starting in Austria, deciding back-to-back [races], then being creative to decide to host three grands prix in the same country – Monza, Mugello, Imola – to go to Portimao in Portugal, to decide to go back to Germany, has required a lot of energy, a lot of creativity and a lot of team spirit.
“Think of all the people behind [the scenes]. Because you have what you see and what you don’t see. Legally, it’s a big endorsement to decide we are going to host racing in this kind of situation.
“So clearly it has been a lot [of effort]. Here you have medical commission of FIA working with the administration, the FIA together with promoter representative, with the national promoter representative, with the government, with their teams. It’s a combination of effort put together to be able to host a championship.”
F1 has put in place a comprehensive Covid-19 Code of Conduct to minimise exposure to the virus among competitors, staff, media and others who attend races. Over 17,000 tests had been conducted as of last week, with only three positive results.
One of those three results involved a driver, Sergio Perez, following his return to Mexico between the Hungarian and British Grand Prix. Todt said Perez’s positive case highlighted the importance of following the code and urged competitors to remember they are viewed as role models.
“Something is sure: If you do something, you take a risk,” he said. “We have been applying a Code of Conduct for everybody, including the media, including people working in the administration, in order to minimise the risk.”
“People may decide to take a risk [which] maybe they could have avoided to take. They must be prepared to have the consequences of the risk in case of a positive [test].
“My only strong message would be, be respectful of the Code of Conduct because it can have consequences for you and for people around you. So we have to be careful.”
“Clearly the reason why the virus has decreased is since it has been controlled better,” Todt added. “If you want to address this thing at a global level much more than simply at the sport level I think it is very important to have a population which is respectful to what is occuring.
“Sportsmen are examples. By giving examples, we will get more results and probably people, all people, normal citizens will pay more attention if they see that people who are representative of something do respect [that] which is to be respected.”
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2020 F1 season
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- F1 revenues fell by $877 million in Covid-struck 2020 season
- Hamilton and Mercedes finally announce new deal for 2021 season
- F1 audience figures “strong” in 2020 despite dip in television viewers
- 2020 F1 driver rankings #1: Lewis Hamilton