EXCLUSIVE: Hungary "very lucky" to be staging GP in F1's new 'normal'
The scrupulous planning and exhaustive details required for Formula 1 to go racing in 2020 have been revealed by a circuit boss who claims she feels "very lucky" to be staging a race this season.
Vice-president of the Hungaroring, Ariane Frank Meulenbelt, told GPFans in detail exactly what teams and drivers will face from the moment they cross the border into Hungary following the opening two rounds of the season in Austria on July 5 and 12.
The circuit, situated 13 miles (21km) outside of Budapest, will host the third behind-closed-doors race of the new campaign on July 19, completing a triple-header.
"Assuming now that, as we understand, most of them [F1 personnel] will be coming by road from Austria to Hungary, crossing the border by Hegyeshalom, we expect them all to travel, or many of them to travel in cars," said Meulenbelt,
"There are rules around how many people can travel in a normal car to adhere to space regulations. All of them will be coming with a negative Covid test that is no more than four days old, and then they will be tested every two days once they are in Hungary.
"They are all looking to stay in hotel rooms, which are single-person rooms, and travelling again in the same groups and keeping to their little bubble. The idea is that everyone is travelling in their own little team bubble.
"People do not mix their groups, people will not be socialising in the city of Budapest, they will be asked to remain and refrain from all of that to ensure that we do not start new fires potentially in the city which is, at the moment, actually pretty safe."
It is likely most teams will stay in downtown Budapest, but Meulenbelt confirmed that individual travel and accommodation arrangements are a matter for the teams and not the promoter.
"They have their own territory areas, but teams and groups, we have created more space at the circuit to allow them to work in a more spacious manner.
"Obviously, in Formula 1, there are a few people that we cannot guarantee that all the space limitations will always be able to be adhered to. We have a pit stop, you will always have people in close proximity to each other. Strapping in drivers.
"But all these people will be tested every two days so the idea is that, if anyone were to be infected, we would be able to, first of all, isolate them and pick them out of the group very quickly.
"Again, retest everyone that’s been in close proximity over a certain period of time with that person to make sure that they are all clear, and isolate anyone that comes up positive as quickly as possible so the show can keep going."
Racing at any grand prix venue without fans will be a strange experience for all involved. However, Meulenbelt refused to be downcast about the views of empty grandstands, focusing on the 'lucky' position the Hungaroring is in to be able to host F1 in 2020.
"From our point of view, what we hope to see is those grandstands full and fans enjoying a great day or, even better, a great weekend out. It is definitely going to be a strange sight to look out of my office window and see exactly that grandstand empty.
"Nonetheless, don’t forget that we are a business that runs 365 days a year, and that grandstand is not always full, so it isn’t a sight that we’re not used to seeing – I see it now.
"A lot of things have changed, but I think we need to understand that we are very lucky to be hosting a grand prix this year anyway.
"We are very lucky that it has worked out, the pandemic has worked out the way it has for us in Hungary and at the moment."
GPFans is a multi-platform, multi-language brand dedicated to Formula One coverage. We bring you all the ins and outs of the sport, 24/7, everything from up-to-the-minute news and features to the latest viral stories and clips.
We believe that a new generation of exciting, outspoken drivers will make F1 more popular than ever before, and we want to give our users access to as much of their heroes as possible, on and off the track. From Lewis Hamilton to Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo to Sebastian Vettel, we provide in-depth analysis of every every Grand Prix in the season, from Australia to Abu Dhabi.
With Formula One under the new ownership of Liberty Media, how the sport is being covered is evolving, and GPFans will look to be at the heart of this progression into new media, as one of the fastest-growing sites covering the king of motorsports.