Along with the rest of the world, motorsport had to hit the emergency brakes when the pandemic hit. From F1 to Drag Racing, the motorsport world was hit hard and events across the globe were forced to be put on hold.
Motorsport in Britain is about so much more than big players like Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) and Max Verstappen (powered by Honda) having to take a break from the wheel. It’s affected the workers within the venues, programme sellers, merchandise vendors and motor support crews. For many, Covid has been a formidable foe for almost 18 months now, and it’s far from over.
It’s not just F1 that has felt the effects of the pandemic. Drag Racing’s National Hot Rod Association suspended its season, The Formula E championship responded by postponing the Rome and Sanya ePrix and even NASCAR announced that the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series would be held behind closed doors. With the spread of Coronavirus having affected major countries that are hosts to all forms of racing, what does it mean for motorsports?
“If Santa Pod went, that’s the end of drag racing in the UK, and that’s the end of licences for 1000 people who race and many thousands of sub-businesses, and we bring millions into the area”
(Source: Keith Bartlett, Santa Pod boss https://www.carmagazine.co.uk/features/car-culture/covid-vs-motorsport/)
The problem is that no one knows for sure. F1 and MOTO GP aren’t like other motorsports where they are held regularly and are in one or two set locations. Of course, the owners and bosses of the big motorsports events want to control the spread of the virus, however, the huge losses to the industry has people asking what the future of the sports will look like. Many experts in the motorsport world are saying that it is all down to testing. At the start of the 2021 F1 season, three drivers and a Mercedes team principal all tested positive for COVID-19 on separate occasions.
With the drivers and team’s safety being a top priority, in January 2021, changes were made to the 2021 Formula One World Championship. The 2021 Australian Grand Prix was postponed from 21 March all the way to 21 November and even the Chinese Grand Prix was postponed for the second year in a row.
The good news is that procedures are being put in place to ensure the safe return of F1, Drag racing and other tournaments in motorsport.
F1 Implemented a number of measures based upon advice from Public Health England. This includes suspending all non-essential travel and deploying teams of experts at airports, transit points and at circuits. These will be able to safeguard personnel and focus on the diagnosis, management and extraction of suspected cases.
Drag Racing (Santa Pod)
Santa Pod Raceway has put into place hygiene, social distancing and safety measures around the site to keep in line with government guidance. Alongside these practices they are also enforcing the “rule of 30” policy, only accepting pre-booked tickets to ensure numbers are kept at a safe level and contactless payments throughout the venue. (Events taking place after July 19th are currently unaffected by any capacity limits or other restrictions.)
NASCAR officials have announced that rapid antigen testing has been introduced as a part of secondary screenings for people coming into the track. To ensure the safety of drivers and spectators they have also enforced mandatory mask-wearing and screenings prior to entrance to the track and venues.
The world may slowly be getting back to “normal” but we are certainly not there yet. The automotive industry has taken a huge hit over the last 18 months and safety is paramount. We recommend checking with the event organisers before travelling. This isn’t just to check whether events are still taking place, but to familiarise yourself with their safety procedures. Most organisers will have taken the initiative and contacted you, as a ticket holder, if the event is imperilled.