How F1 plans to get through fresh quarantine headache

The mounting indications that the UK government will not exempt travelling Formula 1 personnel from the upcoming 14-day quarantine restrictions has thrown yet another spanner in the works as Chase Carey and his colleagues try to nail down a tenable 2020 schedule.

How F1 plans to get through fresh quarantine headache

In reality it won't be the last headache, as rules and regulations related to COVID-19 will continue to evolve in the places around the world that the sport is planning to visit this year.

And most of those will be far more complex to deal with than the country where seven of the 10 teams and the F1 organisation itself is based.

It's now clear that, if F1's final lobbying efforts fail and the government does not exempt top line sports from the quarantine restrictions, then the two British GP races can't happen as currently scheduled on July 26 and August 2.

If things play out that way, then it's understood the plan will be to begin the season with a series of three or four races on the continent, with one or two races at Hockenheim likely to follow on from the two events in Austria.

As reported last week, the German venue has been on standby, and is flexible on dates.

That would mean all UK-based personnel from the F1, F2 and F3 teams, and the F1 organisation itself, staying away from home for up a month. They would then return home to face the 14-day quarantine before any subsequent races.

Read Also:

In theory any travelling team personnel would have to self-isolate at home and not be allowed to visit the factory before they head off on the next trip.

Engineers can debrief remotely via Zoom, but it remains to be seen how many of the seven UK F1 teams have sufficient hands-on personnel to be able to cover for the absent travelling staff members without missing a beat while cars are prepared between trips.

These days travelling mechanics don't go straight back to work on Monday, and they have some time off between the races. Nevertheless it will be harder for the smaller outfits to deal with the absence of key people.

Given that extended flyway round trips have already been factored in later in the year, that end of the calendar is not affected as such – it's the earlier European leg that now has to be revamped.

Plans for a UK quarantine, expected to start in early June, first emerged a couple of weeks ago. It was said initially that the only exemptions would be truck drivers delivering essential goods.

However at the same time, prime minister Boris Johnson and his government were making it clear that a resumption of major sporting events was seen as a way of introducing some normality back to life. It was with that in mind that F1 hoped to be granted an exemption.

It was able to demonstrate that it had a clear plan that would see all travel by personnel carefully controlled.

Key to that was that anyone heading to Austria would be tested first and carry a certificate, and then tested regularly over the two race weekends. They would then have a piece of paper to show on entering or re-entering the UK.

F1 seemed confident that the issue had been addressed, and the news last week that a commercial deal had been concluded with Silverstone was further evidence of that, although circuit boss Stuart Pringle made it clear that it was subject to regulations.

It now seems that the testing provisions have not proved sufficient though.

The suggestion is that the British government has realised that by exempting F1 – as well as other travelling sporting organisations such as football teams competing in UEFA competitions – the door will be opened for every other business and industry to demand similar treatment.

It's worth noting that this impasse has been reached in a country where F1 has a direct line to the UK government, and there is also some obvious motivation to protect the local racing industry.

In places like Bahrain and Abu Dhabi the race promoter is in effect an arm of the government, and thus there's one conversation to be had about any immigration and quarantine issues for F1 folk.

But in many other countries – Japan and the USA are probably among the most extreme examples – central governments won't even know what F1 is, and the chances of being able to negotiate around any restrictions will be slim.

It's a near impossible task for Chloe Targett-Adams, F1's global director of promoters and business relations, who is charged with putting the calendar together. Even without COVID-19, squeezing all the races in is a feat.

"The logistics are always complex in being able to get round the world in such small amounts of time," she told Motorsport.com in 2018.

"It's also the personnel requirements, operational requirements, not just for our TV production and our wider events team, but clearly the most important part are the teams, so that they can turn up and race.

"We know there's always going to be a potential compromise, it may be on man hours, it may be on logistics. Ultimately it's our role to make sure that we get the racing equipment and freight there on time, and it works as seamlessly as possible, to create efficiencies and also to ensure the people are less tired.

"I describe it as a really complex Rubik's Cube, and it's a real challenge to logistically manage."

shares
comments
Monaco sets out plan for 2021 F1, Formula E races

Previous article

Monaco sets out plan for 2021 F1, Formula E races

Next article

Why Villeneuve failed to repeat his father’s Monaco success

Why Villeneuve failed to repeat his father’s Monaco success
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Author Adam Cooper
The AlphaTauri improvements that mean Gasly’s form is no fluke Prime

The AlphaTauri improvements that mean Gasly’s form is no fluke

Pierre Gasly has driven superbly since demotion from Red Bull in 2019, but the team formerly known as Toro Rosso has come on strong too – building a car that can often challenge Ferrari and McLaren. Here Gasly reveals to ALEX KALINAUCKAS how AlphaTauri has given him the tools needed to rebuild his reputation

Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish” Prime

Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish”

We’ve seen five distinct versions of Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes as he’s tried to fulfil his own ambitions while being a consummate team player – two difficult, competing missions which have been challenging to reconcile. Speaking exclusively to Stuart Codling, Bottas explains his highs and lows… and why he still believes he can be world champion.

Formula 1
May 15, 2021
How long can Verstappen and Hamilton keep it clean? Prime

How long can Verstappen and Hamilton keep it clean?

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been evenly matched so far in the 2021 Formula 1 title race. Neither has been afraid to get aggressive against each other on track, teeing up an enthralling contest as the year unwinds. But how long will their battle remain clean? Jonathan Noble ponders that exact point

Formula 1
May 13, 2021
How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner Prime

How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner

The Brabham BT46B raced once, won once, then vanished – or did it? STUART CODLING reveals the story of the car which was never actually banned…

Formula 1
May 11, 2021
The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle Prime

The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle

Formula 1’s visits to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over recent years have been met with familiar criticisms despite tweaks here and there to the track to improve racing. With the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix largely going the same way, proper solutions need to be followed to achieve F1’s wider targets

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Prime

Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Often described as Formula 1's laboratory, the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona gave the clearest demonstration yet of the pecking order in 2021. And it's the key discrepancies from that order which illuminate who is excelling, and who needs to hit the reset button.

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain Prime

How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain

An aggressive first corner move from Max Verstappen appeared to have set the Red Bull driver on course for victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. But canny strategy from Mercedes - combined with the absence of Red Bull's number two from the lead group - allowed Lewis Hamilton to pull off a demoralising reversal

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace Prime

The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace

Lewis Hamilton led the way in Friday practice for the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix, but there was one major encouraging sign for Red Bull. However, making good on that gain will require Max Verstappen to avoid repeating a mistake that left him well down the FP2 order...

Formula 1
May 7, 2021