Ferrari's antivirus bubble

Laurent Mekies, the sporting director of the Italian team, describes the protocols they will take to protect themselves from the virus on F1's return.

In a week, the Austrian GP training will begin and Formula 1 will have returned after a four-month hiatus, although everything that happens off the track will be far from a conventional grand prize: no audience, no guests, hardly any means of communication and without paddock, that meeting place between unions that defines the Great Circus. Laurent Mekies, Ferrari sports director, explains by videoconference to a group of journalists what kind of procedures and measures have been set to restart the World Cup.

For each team will attend "a maximum of eighty people, of which only 60 intervene in the car." That second limit does not change with respect to the usual regulations. The novelty is the bubble system that the FIA will implement: "All F1 will be a bubble, we will go with certificates of aptitude from our doctors and a PCR test carried out four days before traveling, and every five days we will all be tested on the circuit other time, temperature on arrival, mask in all necessary situations ... ". "But once inside, there will also be bubbles between the teams, and within the teams themselves with minimal interactions reduced to groups of engineers, mechanics, personnel ... if there is a positive case, it can be ensured that the number of contacts of the individual is the minimum "says the French engineer.

Practical example: if the engine of the Vettel car needs to be replaced as an emergency, can Leclerc mechanics intervene? "It could be done and it is a decision that we can make autonomously. It is mandatory that the team is a bubble, but that there are other additional bubbles is simply our responsibility. Contacts between people will be limited, but we have tried to design it in a way that that does not affect career operations. "

For the team that travels to Spielberg, movements will be very limited: "From the airport to the hotel, from the hotel to the circuit and vice versa. We try to ensure that we have access to all meals in these environments." In addition, the medical staff of each team is strengthened and a "COVID-19" representative will be appointed, according to the FIA, since this type of protocol involves career operations, legal, medical, and development departments ... ". Apart from those who travel, in Maranello there is a second relay group in case there is a contagion in Spielberg. "They will not go to Austria, but they will pass the COVID-19 tests just like those who do and will be ready to travel," he says. Among the challenges they face, a simple but necessary one stands out: "Although it may seem basic, the boys wear the mask at 40ºC in the garage at all times" .

Mekies, 43, went through Arrows, Toro Rosso and FIA career management before signing for Ferrari as sports director. Now highlights the work of the international body to pool the interests of the ten teams: "The most demanding part of the work has already been done, it is good to return to the circuits and we must recognize everything that has been done with the FIA. Safety has been put ahead, but the context of an international sport as complex as this must also be taken into account. "

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