Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport has showcased how their Brackley and Brixworth factories are looking as they make adjustments to the new normal due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The Silver arrows followed a sixty-three day shutdown period which was required due to UK Government guidelines which were set out in March. The team has now adjusted and is following the new normal with the likes of social distancing, as they explained in a statement:
“Both Mercedes F1 Technology Centres in Brackley and Brixworth went through a social-distancing makeover before the end of shutdown to ensure that our staff could return to work safely.”
As the team prepares to go racing at the 2020 Formula 1 Austria Grand Prix, next week. They explained some of the procedures which the staff at the factories are having to go through. They said that temperature checks are now a regular part of the working day at Mercedes
They also explained that PPE is being required in certain areas of the factory and that staff is having to use hygiene practices to make sure they follow the rules set out by the teams.
“Now, when our colleagues arrive at the factory, their temperature is checked to ensure that they don’t have a fever. Signage has been added around the factory to remind staff of the hygiene and social distancing protocols, but also to mark new one-way systems which have been put into place in many areas of the factories – such as hallways, corridors, staircases and walkway routes around offices and manufacturing floors
“In areas where the work performed does not permit social distancing, as well as whenever colleagues move around the facility, they are required to wear face masks.
“Employees must practice hand hygiene and are also required to wipe down workstations before and after work and when taking breaks.“
Mercedes expressed some of the challenges which have been faced while implementing the ‘new normal’ into their work. The team said that the factory has a lower number of employees working due to still being able to work from home.
They also talked about the rules which have had to be put in place in the factory, explaining they have been hard to install.
“One of the biggest challenges was making sure that a large percentage of our employees were able to work from home.
“At the same time, changing the protocols of an entire factory was not an easy task, particularly for those areas that worked on Project Pitlane during shutdown and were thus still in operation. There were a lot of aspects to consider – from installing thermal scanners at various locations throughout the factory to finding the safest way of distributing food in the canteen.“
All change at the race track
Mercedes recently completed two test days at Silverstone Circuit with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, and the team talked about the effects which the protocol will have on race weekend and what it had on the day.
“At the track, social distancing rules are enforced wherever possible; in addition, the team is required to wear masks. Some roles also require face shields or other additional personal protective equipment.
“Teams will also keep their distance from each other, creating ‘team bubbles’ to limit the risk of exposure amongst the teams. Further, as only essential team personnel will be attending the races, the number of team members at the track will be lower than usual.“
The team mentioned that the tests at Silverstone allowed for Staff to become aware of new rules that have been installed on the grid, as the season start approaches. They emphasised how it was an important test to undertake because the team had to become used to the ‘new normal’ in Formula 1.
“It gave all trackside personnel the chance to familiarise themselves with the new way of working in the garage and was an important step to ensure a smooth operation once the season begins.“
Impact of the revised season on teams
Mercedes have also explained how the revised season may impact the teams on the grid. As the first ten races of the season have been canceled, it sees the season have several races in a row to make up the time lost.
“From an engineering perspective, the effect is smaller than one might imagine. F1 teams aim to design cars that work well at any track, so a revised calendar shouldn’t throw up many curveballs with respect to the car itself or its development programme.
“Triple headers are very demanding for the team as there’s less time between events to service the car. It will also be more intense on those trackside team members with many spending longer stints away from home and having to stay in the team’s bubble.“
The team also talked of the effects on the new car, as it was told that the car could not be worked on during shutdown.
“However, the design of the W11 taken to Australia was frozen around Christmas – owing to the lead time required for manufacturing and testing various components – meaning the team had already developed the car for some three months before the shutdown started.
“In other words, at the time the car was going to hit the track in Melbourne, we had already found a bit of extra performance in the wind tunnel and in our simulations. Other teams will have had similar experiences and all competitors will now try and get as much of that performance as possible on their cars for the first race in Austria