F1 on track for July resumption after drivers’ association backs safety plan | Sport

The Grand Prix Drivers’ Association is confident the precautions being taken by Formula One mean the sport stands every chance of resuming as planned in Austria on 5 July.

Alex Wurz, chairman of the GPDA, will reassure his members that Formula One has put the safety of everyone involved at the forefront of its plans to return to racing after attending a meeting with F1 and the FIA on Friday.

Wurz was joined for the virtual conference by Sebastian Vettel, in his role as director of the GPDA, and all the key players at the top of F1 including the chief executive Chase Carey, sporting director Ross Brawn, race director Michael Masi, and the FIA president Jean Todt.

The meeting was held to brief the drivers’ representatives about the latest plans, including the intent to hold closed-door meetings with all personnel tested for coronavirus and as far as possible maintained in isolation from contact with people.

“They are really trying their best and doing it in a typical F1 safety way, which is immaculate,” Wurz told the Guardian. “The drivers have been reassured today, I can only underline that. I feel confident that the right steps are being made in an efficient timeframe and unless outside circumstances intervene I believe we could start the 2020 season in Austria in July.”

Wurz confirmed F1 has brought in international safety specialists and global health experts to analyse every step the sport is planning on taking. “Motor racing has been a pioneer in safety,” he said. “Right now it’s not about saving a driver’s life or a spectator or a marshal but the whole safety protocol, analysing it and identifying strengths and weaknesses. What we have now, the idea of a closed-loop system at a race venue is really impressive.”

The former F1 driver stressed it was made clear in the meeting that all plans remain subject to the exigencies imposed by the global pandemic, including the threat of a second wave. “Things can change quite quickly because you have many nations and nationalities involved,” he said. “If half of the paddock was stuck in quarantine that would throw a spanner in the gearbox of going racing in July.”

However Wurz believes F1 is in a position to act as an example for other sports in its approach to a resumption. “We are used to operating under the very strictest safety rules that make racing so safe,” he added. “F1 can once again be a pioneer in this direction and make it a best practice example for other industries.”

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