Acting against possible COVID-19 cases, Formula 1 has put in place limitations on the approach to the drivers, both the press and the fans.
As a result, the organisers of the Australian Grand Prix and Formula 1, have established security measures to protect the fans and the drivers themselves, as well for the operating personnel working at the venue, one of this measures was changing the format of the typical “Melbourne Walk” where fans can approach the drivers for autographs. This has been changed to a question and answer session on stage, press contact with the drivers has also been limited, with the drivers required to maintain a distance of at least two metres.
“In the current environment, the Australian Grand Prix Corporation wishes to advise fans of a change to the format, both the autograph sessions and the operations of Melbourne Walk, as they relate to both Formula 1 drivers and Supercars drivers at the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2020.”
“Autograph sessions will now be conducted as Q&A interview sessions. Drivers will continue to utilise Melbourne Walk but will not be closely interacting with fans for selfies, autographs or other direct engagement. We thank you for your cooperation and understanding.” Read the official statement.
How the paddock is reacting to this?
These limitations forced Renault F1 to not allow their drivers, Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon, to participate in the press conference after the team unveil the 2020 livery on Thursday.
Later on the day, it was reported that an employee for McLaren Racing and two members of Haas F1, were presenting symptoms for coronavirus and that, both teams are waiting for the test results.
In a short statement released by the British team, states that the employee is being held in self-isolation due to presenting early symptoms.
“We can confirm that one team member has self-isolated in the hotel as a precaution, in line with our policy, after showing symptoms similar to coronavirus, we are awaiting test results and currently do not have a definitive timeframe for these. The team is operating as per our normal schedule.” read the statement.
On the other hand, Haas reports that two employees are also in self-isolation following the usual 14-day quarantine period.
The Australian Grand Prix will go ahead as planned when other sporting events were cancelled, as the coronavirus global cases are growing on a weekly basis. This kind of news in the paddock should be taken with extreme precautions, as it starts worrying the organizers and the people around prior to the race weekend.