Podium ceremonies on the grid? Ross Brawn explains potential tweaks to 2020 race weekends
The look and feel of a Grand Prix weekend over the next few months will be very different, with races taking place behind closed doors and, at least initially, without any fans in the grandstands.
Traditionally, the grid before the start of a race is packed with drivers, mechanics, media and guests – but there’ll be minimal numbers allowed in the “new normal” while social distancing requirements mean podium and the national anthem will look different too. So F1 bosses have got creative.
“Because of the implementation of the procedures, we need to be safe and sure of the COVID-19 situation,” says F1 motorsports chief Ross Brawn. “The practises we have had in the past just can’t be done. The very packed grid that was a feature of F1 racing just can’t happen.
“So every aspect from the time teams arrive to the time they leave has been thought through and it’s not completely finalised, but we’re working with the FIA to polish it.
The podium celebrations are one of the most iconic parts of any Grand Prix weekend, and they will remain – albeit in a slightly revised format.
“The podium procedure can’t happen [as it does now], but we’re looking at doing something on the grid after the race,” says Brawn. “One option would be to line the cars up on the track and the drivers will stand in front of cars.
“We can’t present the trophies, as you can’t have someone in close proximity presenting a trophy, but we have worked it out, we have plans and procedures, we’re looking at how we can present it on TV.”
Anyone who has stood on an F1 grid will know that without some kind of change, social distancing would be simply impossible. Therefore, some of the procedures we’ve become accustomed to on the grid will have to change.
“Things like the national anthem, you can’t have all the drivers grouped together and you can’t have our FIA Future Stars stood in front of them. The FIA Future Stars will still be part of the show virtually. They will have the uniforms sent to them and they’ll send us videos of them with a message which we can play so there are lots of things we can do to make it entertaining.”
The Drivers' Parade
A couple of hours before a race, the drivers typically board a truck or ride in a classic car and cruise around the track waving to fans. That won’t be possible, given the close proximity to someone else, so they will be interviewed separately instead.
“The drivers' parade won’t happen as we can’t put 20 drivers on the back of a truck and take it round the track, so instead we will interview with each one of them in front of the garage,” says Brawn. “There’s plenty of ways we can engage without compromising health and safety.
“I’m 100% confident that we will make it an engaging and exciting product, it will just be different. This is the new norm. How long will this carry on? We don’t know, but this will be the new norm for the rest of the year for sure.”