Red Bull’s Alex Albon says the precautions put in place at the Australian Grand Prix have made the event feel different.
The 2020 season-opener at Albert Park has survived despite the global spread of the coronavirus, but a series of precautions are still understandably in place.
Autograph sessions will be replaced by Q&A interviews, while Red Bull are one of the teams to put their own measures in place.
Albon was speaking at Melbourne’s Station Pier alongside team-mate Max Verstappen as part of a Red Bull media event, and there was a two-meter exclusion zone around the drivers during the press conference.
And although he did remind us that this will be only his second Australian Grand Prix, Albon did say that the feeling was different this time around.
“Even now walking around Melbourne it’s obviously a different kind of atmosphere to what it’s been like in the past,” he said, as quoted by Autosport.
“I mean I speak about the past, I’ve done one year. [But] it’s going to be different.
“I’m not sure what’s being put in place to be honest with you [regarding measures in the Albert Park paddock].
“But hopefully we can find the right balance between the drivers and the teams [on] the safety because it is obviously a serious problem, [while] also giving something to the fans to be able to interact with us in some way.”
Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon launched Renault’s 2020 race livery on Wednesday, but were withdrawn from the accompanying press conference to avoid any possible exposure to the virus.
Explaining the decision, Renault managing director Cyril Abiteboul said: “Obviously as we were planning this event, we were expecting a little bit more of a light atmosphere.
“Obviously I’m referring to the very particular circumstances in which we are in Australia and Melbourne.
“Usually it’s a moment that we all love when we are racing in Formula 1, so I wanted to make a mention of that.
“I also wanted to say that our drivers were supposed to be with us for that event, but due to the situation, we’ve excused them from the occasion.
“I hope you understand why we are taking such measures.”