‘Wearing masks all the time’ biggest challenge

Jamie Woodhouse

Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies says that “wearing masks” practically all the time will be the biggest challenge for F1 staff.

At long last the 2020 season will get underway next weekend in Austria, it just won’t quite be the Formula 1 we knew before.

Teams have been working hard to put the series’ new safety procedures into practice, and part of that will involve wearing face masks.

And Mekies believes it is this change which will take the most getting used to.

Speaking to Motorsport.com, he said: “I think in a very basic way, the biggest challenge, especially for the guys in the garage, will be to wear a mask pretty much all the time.

“We have been starting to get used to it, and for all of us now it’s becoming a part of our normal life. Actually here in Ferrari it’s compulsory, so we wear it at all times in the factory and in the office.

“But it’s one thing to wear it in an office environment, it is something else to wear it when it will be 40 degrees and very hot at the racetrack.

“All credit to the medical and first response persons that are used to doing it and are wearing it on a regular basis every day of their working life.

“We are trying to put in place a number of measures, in terms of breathing exercises and having some break to those guys, to do breathing exercises and to be keeping in the best possible shape.”

Teams will be kept in their own bubbles with very little interaction between one another, while Ferrari will then have their own bubbles within.

Mekies explained how this will work.

“It’s not a regulation, so you are not forced into this bubble. You are forced into operating your team as a bubble. And the fact that we do a sub bubble inside it, is our responsibility,” he said.

“We will be as resilient as possible in case of a positive case, so depending on how we design our bubble, we will limit the operations, and the contact between the people.

“We will be trying to design it in a way that doesn’t affect the operations. So in the case we need to [make a quick engine change] we can perfectly do it.

“What it means is that as a team, we will be a bit less resilient, in case one of these persons will be unfortunately positive in the same process. But it’s a decision that we can take in autonomy.”

But there will be times where staff have to get close together for certain work, though Mekies stressed this wouldn’t be a risk to safety.

“Whenever or wherever you will not be able to have distances, you will have to wear the mask anyway. And therefore, at that stage, we will do what we need to do in the safest possible way,” he said.

“So there will be no temptation or incentives to drop any of these [safety measures] because it will be the norm.”

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