Ross Brawn has spoken with regards to further F1 calendar expansion, reverse-grid sprint race qualifying, and what will happen in the event of a positive test result at a race.
After weeks of uncertainty, F1 has finally settled on the European leg of the calendar, with eight races confirmed, and set to be run over the summer months, commencing in early July, and concluding almost exactly two months later.
However, F1 are still actively in the process of trying to expand upon this provisional calendar, and at the forefront of this undertaking is Brawn, who has detailed just how tough it will be to try to compete on other continents such as Asia or North America.
Brawn highlighted the various levels of COVID-19 pandemic’s severity in each country as a particular threat to the further evolution of the 2020 calendar. “There is still quite a lot of volatility in the situation in different countries, so until that stabilises and we can see where the situation is, it’s difficult to commit,” he said to BBC Sport.
“Brazil is in the middle of a very difficult period. Mexico is in the middle of a very difficult period. But we’re optimistic that those situations will improve and therefore we will be able to build a programme around that. We can’t operate at a level that is worse than the country needs.
“Our standards will always exceed the standards of the country we are going to,” summed up Brawn, who added that F1 has back-up plans if flyaway doesn’t happen – Mexico, Brazil and Russia all want to host races but the situation in their countries seems not feasible.
For the eight races already scheduled, there were suggestions that reverse-grid sprint races for qualifying were on the table as an experiment. This, though, was quickly shot-down, primarily by Mercedes, who claimed it was far too gimmicky, at least in the media.
Overall, it was a divisive proposal, but one that Brawn is disappointed didn’t see the light of day, given the opportunity that they had to try something out in a season that is already different. “In the first instance, Toto was very frank and said: ‘I think I’m in a very strong competitive position and I don’t want anything that is going to upset the chances of me winning races’,” said Brawn.
“And that’s fine. That’s his prerogative. Since then, all sorts of things have come out as to why we shouldn’t do it. I still prefer to stick to his first reasons, which I respect, and I might even be the same in his position.” He then went on to discuss the future of F1, as well as one of the sport’s most famous teams: Williams.
Brawn felt sad about the situation but stated that performance has to be top notch to stay afloat in F1. He hopes that the 2022 F1 regulations changes will bring them closer with the new investment that they are looking into.
Regarding the future, he feels that F1 can scrape through the current low. “It can certainly sustain it for this year,” said Brawn. “A large part of our income comes from broadcast rights. A large part of our income comes from sponsorship. Those are things we can fulfil whether the fans are there or not.
“We want races with fans as soon as we can but we can’t do it unless we can do it safely. We will be making a call on all the races with or without fans but for me it is sustainable for the rest of the year if we had to have the majority of races without fans.”
Elaborating on how F1 will tackle a positive case, Brawn concurred with Chase Carey in stating that they won’t stop the weekend if someone gets infected and cannot compete, even a pull out from a team won’t stop it as was the case in Australia.
Brawn is banking on the strict protocols in place effectively where they are hoping for no positive show in the first place to disrupt the weekend. “If somebody comes down with the symptoms, you’d have to deal with it straight away,” he said.
“If we do get a positive case then we can isolate that case and people who have been in contact with that person very quickly A group of mechanics working on a car, while they will be wearing PPE, it will be very difficult to socially distance.
“But there is no reason why that group of mechanics will necessarily be part of another family of mechanics working on the other car. So if we have somebody test positive in one of the groups, then we would have to isolate that group until they could all be tested.
“We would have to isolate that group until we could be sure the virus hadn’t spread but the rest of the team could still function.” The big takeaway from here was Brawn – like Carey – stating that if driver is under quarantine, he will have to sit out and reserves could race.
Here’s more from Mexico GP
Here’s Mercedes noting about their planned test
Here’s Chase Carry on Concorde Agreement and more
Here’s some key answers from F1 regarding 2020 start
Here’s the details of 2020 F1 season
The story was co-written by Darshan Chokhani