Abiteboul: One positive COVID-19 test could bring down whole F1 team

Renault Formula 1 chief Cyril Abiteboul fears one positive test for COVID-19 striking at the wrong time could bring down a team and force it to miss a race

Abiteboul: One positive COVID-19 test could bring down whole F1 team

F1's delayed 2020 season will start next weekend in Austria after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the first 10 races of the year.

The planned season-opener in Australia was called off just hours before first practice was meant to begin following a positive test for COVID-19 for a McLaren team member.

F1 is planning a number of new protocols and procedures to create a "biosphere" to protect those at the race from falling ill, including regular testing and reducing on-site presence at the behind closed doors events.

Teams are implementing their own changes, such as preventing mechanics working on one car from mixing with the other side of the garage where possible, with many using a private test day to practice its new procedures ahead of the Austria race.

Abiteboul said there was still a "fluid dialogue" with the FIA over the planned changes to procedures at the races, but was conscious of carefully managing the independent subgroups within the team to prevent a positive test compromising the entire team.

"I think really it's a balance between the risk and practicality of the situation. That balance is difficult to find," Abiteboul said in a press conference with select media including Autosport.

"I think the biggest challenge will be really in the implementation. We have formed a group and subgroup, so that if there is a positive case, it remains limited to a subgroup.

"Because there is a risk, and that's still again a dialogue that we're having, the risk that one person [tests positive] and that the whole team is immediately out, at least for the time of the test, that can take a full day, 24 hours.

"If that positive case is happening on a Saturday morning, you are not going to qualify and you are not going to participate in the race.

"I see that we still need to have a little bit of discussion in how to balance risk and some common sense, and participation in the sport, even though I completely understand the work that has been done between the FIA and the team."

PLUS: How F1's marshals will work through COVID-19 safety measures

Renault managed to practice its new procedures during a two-day test at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg as drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon made their on-track return.

Both Ricciardo and Ocon explained how they were taking additional precautions in the lead-up to Austria to minimise the risk of contracting COVID-19.

"Taking those extra steps that seems certainly necessary for now," Ricciardo said.

"I think going to the circuit and being back in the environment and preparing before the race, next weekend, I don't see any preparation being hindered. We've got our driver space to warm up and prepare for the race itself. It's more from a general hygiene point of view.

"But as far as getting into the car ready to go, I believe I'll still be able to use everything I had before to make sure I'm hopping into the car 100%."

Ocon added: "We'll have to be careful. We've been waiting so long to get back, it would be a shame and dangerous also for all of us to risk anything. I think it's safety for everyone, and I'm happy to see that we have rules in place.

"It would be crazy to wait so long and prepare that much and arrive and be positive at the test, for myself or risking myself to be positive and getting risk for the team. I'm massively careful.

"Risk zero doesn't exist unfortunately, but you can take some out if you are careful."

shares
comments
Autosport 70: How Peterson resurrected his F1 career – in his own words
Previous article

Autosport 70: How Peterson resurrected his F1 career – in his own words

Next article

F1 cost cap won't harm Mercedes relationship, says Racing Point

F1 cost cap won't harm Mercedes relationship, says Racing Point
Load comments
The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback Plus

The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback

It’s easy to look at
 Robert Kubica’s second Formula 1 career and feel a sense of sadness that he didn’t reach the heights for which he seemed destined. But as BEN ANDERSON discovered, performance and results are almost meaningless in this context – something more fundamental and incredible happened…

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren  Plus

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren 

From being lapped by his own team-mate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

Formula 1
Nov 26, 2021
The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title Plus

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title

As the battle continues to rage over the F1 2021 drivers' championship, teams up and down the grid are turning their attentions to the prize money attributed to each position in the constructors' standings. But F1's sliding scale rules governing windtunnel and CFD use will soften the blow for those who miss out on the top places

Formula 1
Nov 25, 2021
The invisible enemy that’s made Hamilton’s title charge tougher Plus

The invisible enemy that’s made Hamilton’s title charge tougher

After winning his past few Formula 1 titles at a canter, Lewis Hamilton currently trails Max Verstappen by eight points heading into the final double-header of 2021. Although Red Bull has been his biggest on-track challenge, Hamilton feels that he has just as much to grapple with away from the circuit

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2021
Why F1’s inconvenient penalties have to stay Plus

Why F1’s inconvenient penalties have to stay

OPINION: Quibbles over the length of time taken by Formula 1's stewards over decisions are entirely valid. But however inconvenient it is, there can be no questioning the importance of having clearly defined rules that everyone understands and can stick to. Recent events have shown that ambiguity could have big consequences

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021’s title fight climax Plus

The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021’s title fight climax

OPINION: Red Bull has had Formula 1’s fastest package for most of 2021, but in several of the title run-in events it has wasted the RB16B’s potential. It cannot afford to do so again with Lewis Hamilton motoring back towards Max Verstappen in the drivers’ standings with two rounds remaining

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
Qatar Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Qatar Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Qatar was a virtual unknown for most as Formula 1 made its inaugural visit to the Gulf state, and tyre management quickly emerged as an even more critical factor than normal. Perhaps then it should come as no surprise that two of the championship's elder statesmen produced standout drives

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2021
How Hamilton dominated in Qatar despite missing a key Mercedes advantage Plus

How Hamilton dominated in Qatar despite missing a key Mercedes advantage

There was simply no stopping Lewis Hamilton on Formula 1's first visit to Qatar. The Mercedes driver eased to pole position and led every lap to secure an utterly dominant victory - even without a key Mercedes weapon in his arsenal to increase the heat on Red Bull heading into the final two races of the gripping 2021 title race

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2021