London (dpa) – Lewis Hamilton is standing at the sink with a straight face. A few warning words about the corona pandemic into the camera, then the Formula 1 world champion turns on the tap.
“It’s very, very contagious, so take it seriously,” says the 35-year-old after washing his hands conscientiously. Hamilton’s short video tutorial is just a symbol of how the priorities have shifted in the supposed glittering world of Formula 1. The racing series is also less about hunting for times and tire compounds, but more about survival.
Hamilton has now spoken again, dismissing concerns about his own health. The Mercedes driver wrote on Twitter about rumors of a possible infection with the corona virus: “I wanted to let you know that I am fine, that I feel healthy, and train twice a day. I have zero symptoms. » The British had been at an event two weeks ago with actors Idris Elba and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Both later announced that they were infected with Sars-CoV-2.
At the core of Formula 1, the corona crisis has arrived well before Hamilton’s soothing message from the weekend. When an employee of the McLaren racing team tested positive for the virus last week, the premier class of motorsport also had to put the brakes on. A few hours before the start of the first training session at the start of the season in Melbourne – all teams have traveled halfway around the world – the Australian Grand Prix is canceled.
Until then, the crisis managers of Formula 1 were stubbornly wrong. But after the chaos of Melbourne, the decision-makers of the PS spectacle found the right course. An emergency package will be activated in several switching conferences to secure the future of the full-throttle circus. “We are very grateful for the cooperative nature of the discussions and the completely united thoughts of everyone involved in racing in 2020 as soon as the current global situation allows it,” says Formula 1 boss Chase Carey.
Previously, the management, team bosses and world association had canceled all seven races by the end of May, even the glamorous guest performance in Monaco will not take place this year. The fact that tire partner Pirelli sent a message shortly before about the rubber compounds nominated by the organizer for the city tour of Monte Carlo remains a quickly outdated side note.
The further decisions of the board are much more important. For example, the rule revolution ordered after a long dispute is postponed by a year to 2022. The cars should actually be heavier and a little slower next season, and a change in aerodynamics was also planned. In this way, the rule-keepers want to ensure more overtaking and spectacle.
But almost everyone is now reluctant to invest heavily in the development of new cars, only Ferrari is hesitant to agree to postpone the reform. In the coming year, the current cars will continue to be driven; in addition to the rules for the chassis, other important components will probably also be frozen.
At the same time, the bosses agree that the budget limit of $ 175 million per season should take effect as planned next year. It was actually intended as protection for the medium and small teams that had no chance against the financial strength of the top trio Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. In view of the economic consequences of the corona crisis, a cost limit could well also be in the sense of an industry giant like Mercedes, if the involvement in Formula 1 comes back to the test at the carmaker’s house.
“In the coming weeks and months we will have to face new challenges, which we will tackle with the same energy and determination as we do on the racetrack,” wrote Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff in an open letter to the fans. It is completely unclear whether Formula 1 will really let the engines howl again in June and then choose the next world champion in an emergency program with as many Grand Prix weekends as possible without long breaks.
For the time being, therefore, the clever motorsport manager Wolff only has to join his superstar Hamilton’s wish: “Please stay safe, follow the advice of the experts, keep your distance and wash your hands.”