For so many around the world, COVID-19 has seen sporting events sidelined for a future date or canceled outright. Formula 1, as we know, has been deeply affected yet there may be a green flag on the horizon. F1 CEO Chase Carey has put forward a possible starting date and a possible calendar to include at least fifteen races with the question of audience attendance still remaining unclear.
April 27 had confirmation that the French GP, scheduled for late June, would join the list of race weekends to be postponed. A declaration by the French Government has major events on hold until at least the middle of July. Alongside the necessary travel restrictions, this made putting the event on hold a no-brainer.
“Given the evolution of the situation linked to the spread of the Covid-19 virus, the French Grand Prix takes note of the decisions announced by the French State making it impossible to maintain our event,” said Eric Boullier, Managing Director of the GIP Grand Prix de France. “The eyes of the GIP Grand Prix de France – Le Castellet are already turning towards the summer of 2021 in order to offer our spectators an even more unprecedented event at the heart of the Région Sud.”
Carey himself echoes Boullier: “We’re targeting a start to racing in Europe through July, August and beginning of September, with the first race taking place in Austria on 3-5 July weekend. September, October and November, would see us race in Eurasia, Asia and the Americas, finishing the season in the Gulf in December with Bahrain before the traditional finale in Abu Dhabi, having completed between 15-18 races.”
A mooted calendar sees F1 racing in the northern hemisphere’s summer to start, with Europe being covered by July and August and a race at Austria’s Red Bull Ring. The Asian region would then be next, with Eurasia being looked after through September and October, with Asian regions such as Japan and China possibly November and December. Those two months may also see racing in the Americas, before a season finale in the Gulf region.
It’s worth noting that the calendar is by no means a hard-and-fast one, with the fluid situation of COVID-19 dictating a need to be flexible. Carey acknowledges this, saying: “All of our plans are obviously subject to change as we still have many issues to address and all of us are subject to the unknowns of the virus. We all want the world to return to the one we know and cherish, yet we recognize it must be done in the right and safest way.”
Lando Norris would agree with the safety aspect. In an interview with F1’s Will Buxton, Norris reluctantly admitted that the “body shock” of an F1 drive after an enforced layoff is not one he’s looking forward to. Norris addressed the fact that a driver needs a dedicated fitness program in order to deal with the stresses a race puts upon the body, and that includes the actual driving as they’re left with little to no physical exposure in driving such as a Formula 3 car and even go-karting.
“To be able to go from doing nothing – not even testing or driving an F3 car or any car of any sort – it’s literally going from driving a road car, and I’ve not even done that that much, to jumping into one of the fastest cars in the world, pulling x amount of G-forces around the corner,” Norris says. “It’s a big shock.”
Neck muscles are one critical area that a driver needs to have strength in, and Norris says that he’s been able to at least work on this aspect at home. However, he warns that as much work that can be possibly done at home. “You can be one of the fittest guys in Formula 1 or the world, but it’s still tough on the human body,” he adds.