Formuła 1 w czasach koronawirusa: część 3

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Tens of thousands of fans in the grandstands, thousands autographed cards being given away, tens of VIPs in the paddock, hundreds of fans on the pit lane walk. All of this is gone from Formula 1 and might not come back for a while.

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The only option to greet the fans are the virtual meetings, which at least give the ability to have a few words with your idols. Many teams are holding such online chats as well as send out the signed cards by post. Still, some of the spectators are going to the track to try their luck meeting the stars of the sport at the entrance gates.

The drivers themselves spend most of their time alone, in the dedicated trailers or buses. Some, like George Russell, are staying at the hotels, but are doing their beds themselves, to minimise contact with people outside the bubble. As the Sergio Pérez’s example has shown, a moment of inattention is enough to catch coronavirus and be put on the side-lines for some time.

“It is quite surreal, there are a lot different protocols in place, no fans and much less media and we are wearing our face masks everywhere we go” – George Russell told us. “At the race weekends we are in our little driver rooms doing all of our engineering meetings,  all the media, as much as possible from here. The only person I am interacting with closely is my trainer”.

“There are no fans around which is really disappointing, you have that buzz when you drive around the circuit and see everyone and when you drive into the circuit. Our weekends are much quieter, we don’t have the VIPs here, the partners and fans. However, I am still very much enjoying the driving which is what I’m here for”.

His teammate Nicholas Latifi admitted that getting used to the new situation took him some time: “It is very different and has taken some time getting used to. There are so many more procedures in place and safety protocols to follow, everyone is in masks in the paddock and in the garage. The paddock is definitely not as crowded as it normally is, both from a media perspective and a team perspective as the amount of team personnel has been limited. I think Formula One is always about adapting and this is going to become the new normal”.

For the Haas drivers, the absence of the fans is felt mostly on Sundays, counting down the minutes to the start, and after the race, when the winners and the finishers would be celebrated.

“It feels very dull without the fans” – says Magnussen. “Of course, when you get in the car, you’re so focused on the race and on doing well, so you kind of forget about it. But certainly before the races the track is lacking a whole lot of atmosphere. It doesn’t psyche you as much and you don’t get this sense of buzz. So, it certainly feels different prior to the race. I think when you get in the car, you close the visor and those lights come on and go out, it totally feels the same, because you forget about it. Certainly before the race and after, any time you are out of the car, you certainly feel it a lot”.

Romain Grosjean also tells about the lack of atmosphere on Sunday: “To me the biggest difference racing with no fans is on Sunday when you are on the grid and something is kind of missing to the atmosphere. And I guess the podium must be quite strange as well, not that I have been on it. It must be very strange not to be celebrating with the fans. The rest of the weekend feels kind of normal. Yes, we do have a little bit less duties and less marketing and media. But using video chat software we have been managing to get the most of it. So really, I would say the big difference is Sunday on the grid”.

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