Formula 1

How F1 teams are operating amid isolations and lockdowns

Mar 17 2020
By Scott Mitchell
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All 10 Formula 1 teams are observing self-isolation practices since returning from the Australian Grand Prix amid the coronavirus pandemic, but they have not yet reported further cases.

The escalation of the COVID-19 outbreak has led to more than 180,000 confirmed cases worldwide, with two confirmed among F1 personnel in Melbourne.

The first of those was a McLaren employe who tested positive on Thursday, which led to the team withdrawing and triggered a sequence of events that ended with the race being cancelled. The second case was a Pirelli employee.

As next weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix has also been postponed, along with Vietnam’s first F1 race at the start of April, F1 teams have returned to their respective countries.

The Race contacted all 10 teams, with eight responding and confirming no tests have been required or positive cases confirmed.

World-championship winning team Mercedes has asked its travelling team members to self-isolate for the next two weeks and work from home.

This is to ensure no transmission to the 2000 or so Brackley or Brixworth employees.

Some additional personnel are also self-isolating owing to travel conducted in the past weeks.

Renault’s race team has returned home and will observe “a short period” of self-isolation before returning to work next week.

Renault paddock area Australian Grand Prix 2020

Its Enstone and Viry facilities will remain open during this time, as it stands.

Racing Point’s team members are still in the process of returning from Australia and face a similar 14-day spell away from the factory as a precaution.

Its Silverstone base remains operational, with all staff following the government advice for good hand hygiene.

Racing Point will ask anyone reporting symptoms to self-isolate and will monitor the situation on a day-by-day basis.

Alfa Romeo has also committed to a two-week period of self-isolation for travellers from Australia and is allowing team members to work from home if possible.

Otherwise the team is observing “the general hygiene/safety directives already shared by governments and medical authorities”.

Haas, which had several team members tested for coronavirus in Australia, has also specified no factory visits for two weeks but no other personnel have been subjected to further testing.

A spokesperson for the team told The Race it was briefed about COVID-19 prior to Australia by its health professional “and we all continue to follow the guidelines we’ve been given”.

Williams did not have any team members who required tests or isolations “either in Australia or since returning home to the UK”, or shown symptoms.

It will keep race team members away from the factory until March 30 “at the earliest”.

Williams also has an occupational health nurse who has been monitoring the situation and providing updated information while the team was in Australia, and has continued to do that since the team’s return to the UK.

“She is monitoring all the advice from every health source and the government and is making sure we all follow this for the safety of everyone involved,” said a team spokesperson.

Williams pitwall Australian Grand Prix 2020

Red Bull and AlphaTauri had not returned The Race’s request for clarification over their respective measures as of Monday evening but both had already committed to following specific advice.

The Red Bull team said immediately after the cancellation of the event that it would ensure “all necessary precautions are taken in line with government and World Health Organisation guidelines”.

AlphaTauri is based in Faenza so like Ferrari faces isolation in Italy, which been affected worse by the COVID-19 outbreak than any other country outside China, recording more than 27,000 confirmed cases and more than 2000 deaths.

As part of the nationwide lockdown the Italian government has issued strict instructions, including restricting non-urgent movement (such as medical or professional needs), closing shops, theatres, museums and schools, cancelling sports events and ordering companies to shut non-essential departments.

AlphaTauri said on Friday last week that it was “aware of the worsening situation back in Europe, which is worrying for all our staff”.

It added that it trusted F1 and the FIA “to monitor the situation and guide all the teams accordingly”.

Ferrari and McLaren, as previously reported, acted swiftly in the aftermath of the race’s cancellation for different reasons.

Italy has been under a nationwide lockdown for several days.

Ferrari has closed its Maranello and Modena production facilities as a result, including temporarily ceasing its F1 operations.

McLaren’s team member who was diagnosed with coronavirus is “recovering well” and no longer exhibiting symptoms.

It has quarantined its coronavirus-positive team member and 14 others they were in close contact with, as senior personnel stayed out in Melbourne to support those in isolation.

In addition to race team members being kept away from the team’s MTC headquarters for 14 days after returning to the UK, McLaren will also be implementing “split operations” from Monday.

Each department will be split into two groups and alternate working one week in the factory and one week at home, “to avoid risk of infection to entire teams”.

Driver Carlos Sainz elected to be tested for coronavirus once he had returned from Australia and was found to be negative, but is nonetheless still observing an isolation period in his native Spain, which is the next worst-affected European country after Italy.

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