Formula 1 has canceled autograph session and banned selfies with the drivers as three team personnel self-isolate after spiking fevers.
And that’s just the tip of the Australian iceberg.
Red Bull ‘will’ protest Mercedes’ DAS
Red Bull vowed when it first saw Mercedes’ Dual-Axis Steering system during pre-season testing to protest it, adamant it is illegal.
Weeks later the Milton Keynes team has warned it is not playing around.
“For us, the system does not comply with the rules,” Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko told F1-insider.“So we will protest when Mercedes uses the system in Melbourne.”
Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas have already stated that DAS will be used at the Australian Grand Prix.
Asked about the team’s plans to use the system, which changes the toe of the front wheels, Bottas said he sees “no reason” why the team won’t race it in Melbourne.
“Everything works well with it,” he added.“We’re still learning more and more about it, we’re happy to have it in the car and no issues really found so far, so it’s all working well.”
DAS, though, is not Red Bull’s only complaint when it comes to the Mercedes W11.
The team, third in last year’s championship, has already forced Mercedes to change the car’s rear brake ducts.
According to Auto Motor und Sport, Red Bull’s engineers suspected that the rear brake vents were not compliant with the regulations and wrote to the FIA requesting clarification.
That led to the FIA issuing a Technical Directive and Mercedes changing the ducts before heading to Melbourne
Racing Point’s pink Mercedes facing protests
Rumblings of a Melbourne protest against Racing Point’s 2020 challenger continue in the build-up to the season-opening Grand Prix.
Last month Racing Point unveiled its 2020 car, which is basically a 2019 Mercedes F1 team.
The Silverstone squad effectively took every aspect of the Mercedes’ W10, broke it down, analyzed it, and put it back together to create the Racing Point RP20.
Rivals, most notably Renault, aren’t so sure that the RP20 meets the legal requirements for designing your own car.
As such the French team is believed to be considering protesting the ‘pink Mercedes’. McLaren could join in.
But should the protest come and the RP20 be declared legal, Racing Point’s rivals have only themselves to blame for not walking a similar path.
F1 team personnel showing fever signs
Three team personnel, one from McLaren and two from Haas, are in self-isolation at their respective Melbourne hotels after spiking fevers when they touched down in Australia.
The three unnamed team personnel all showed symptoms of the coronavirus and have been tested for it.
While they await the results, they are in self-isolation at their hotels.
They could be there for as long as five days as they wait for the results to come in.
Earlier this week Formula 1 announced that it would be taking a ‘scientific approach’ to COVID-19, listening to government advice, and setting out designated quarantine points at all races.
“Dedicated teams of experts will be deployed at airports, transit points and at circuits to safeguard personnel, focused on the diagnosis, management and extraction of suspected cases,” it said.“Bespoke quarantine points are being installed by promoters for any suspected cases.“Due to the fluid nature of the virus, F1 will continue to take a scientific approach to the situation, acting on daily advice from the official health authorities and the advice or measures each host promoter may enact.“For F1, the FIA and all teams and promoters, the safety of our people is at all times paramount.”
Meanwhile, the Australian GP promoters have announced that this weekend there won’t be any autograph signings with the drivers, instead, some drivers will take part in Q&A sessions.
This at least allows fans to get a little closer to the drivers but not too close.
Selfies with the drivers as they arrive at the circuit are also out.
“In the current environment, the Australian Grand Prix Corporation wishes to advise fans of a change to the format of both the autograph sessions and the operations of the Melbourne Walk as they relate to both Formula 1 drivers and Supercars drivers,” read a statement from the AGPC.“Autograph sessions will now be conducted as Q&A interview sessions.“Drivers will continue to utilise the Melbourne Walk but will not be closely interacting with fans for selfies, autographs or other direct engagement.“We thank you for your cooperation and understanding.”
Singer Miley Cyrus also won’t be banging out any tunes on Friday night in Melbourne, canceling on “recommendations” of the Australian authorities.
And hopefully some racing
Protests, autographs, and Miley aside, Formula 1 is in Melbourne this weekend to race.
After more than 100 days without racing, the sport returns to action at the Albert Park street circuit.
The fast but bumpy track includes public roads meaning the weekend gets off to a dirty start before rubbering in.
Last year Hamilton took a record-breaking eighth pole in Melbourne but lost the lead to Bottas at the first corner and was never able to recover.
He finished second to his team-mate’s P1 while Max Verstappen joined them on the podium and Ferrari’s lack of pace was evident with a distant fourth and fifth.
This year Mercedes are again the favorite as Hamilton looks to extend his pole position record while Bottas, perhaps 3.0, strives to get his championship quest off to the best start possible.
They will, however, face stiff competition from Verstappen. The Dutchman is predicted to be Hamilton’s main challenger this season and he is determined to prove he has what it takes to win a World title.
“Lewis has been winning a lot, Mercedes has been winning a lot… as a team we try to make it difficult for them,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.“Lewis and the team both do a great job so it’s now up to us to try to give them a harder time.”
As for Ferrari, the Scuderia believe even fourth and fifth may be too optimistic this season after struggling for pace in pre-season testing. Rivals have rubbished that claim.
Behind the leading three teams, who will remain the leading trio, there will be a midfield like F1 hasn’t seen in years with McLaren, Racing Point, and Renault all fighting for best of the rest.
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