Despite the shambolic handling of the Australian Grand Prix cancellation, F1 managing director Ross Brawn thinks all parties did a “good” job.
The event was finally cancelled just a few hours before FP1 was due to start and when fans were already queuing at the gates to enter Albert Park.
Twelve hours earlier McLaren had announced their withdrawal from the 2020 season-opening event after one of their workers tested positive for the coronavirus.
It was a situation that dragged on for way too long, but Brawn, who said he had “one hour’s sleep”, praised the response due to all the parties involved in the final decision – F1’s CEO Chase Carey was flying back to Australia at the time after crisis talks in Vietnam, while FIA president Jean Todt was at a fancy dinner with the Hainaut Business Club.
Speaking to the F1 website, Brawn said: “We just had so many issues to work through.
“We had to get the teams together again, hold a meeting. It just all takes time.
“You can’t just make a decision, you’ve got so many factors to take into account.
“It was a pretty stressful period, and I think considering we dealt with everything in 12 hours, on something that important, it was good.”
Many questioned why the event was set to happen in the first place, including reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton who was “surprised” and didn’t hold back in criticising those in charge.
But Brawn said that by the time the situation had worsened, F1 was on a “ship that had sailed”.
“We have a big impact on the economy here, and it has an impact on our economy,” he said.
“Formula 1 has to function. We have to make it work.
“So we looked at the whole situation and when we decided to go ahead, it looked a bit different to how it looks now.
“Probably what’s surprised everybody is the rapid expansion of this problem. The escalation of cases, certainly in countries like Italy where it’s gone almost vertical, no one I think could have expected or predicted that.
“I spoke with Mattia Binotto at Ferrari many times over the past few weeks, and his mood changed from what he was seeing in Italy, and what we have to look at in Italy.
“We were kind of on this ship that sailed and we were optimistic that we could get through it, that we could get Formula 1 started, and we can have a great race, and just bring a bit of relief in difficult times.
“Once we had the positive case here, and once one team couldn’t race because of that, then clearly we had a problem we had to address.”
These events have cast serious doubt on the Bahrain Grand Prix scheduled for next weekend and also the inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix, and Brawn admitted that the consequences will be felt beyond Australia.
“The teams survive on their funding from races, so this will have an impact on the team’s budgets for the future,” he explained.
“It will have an impact on our economics as a company. Each race you lose, then it has an impact.
“There’s a fair resilience in Formula 1 and we’ve got plans to rebuild the season, trying to accommodate as many of the lost races [April’s Chinese GP has also been postponed].
“People have to show some tolerance now in terms of how we build the season for the rest of the year.”