Formula One teams arriving in Bahrain next month will operate in Covid-19-free bubbles, with minimal interactions ... to ensure the action remains on the track and not in the medical tent.
The drivers and the entire support teams will operate within their own dedicated areas as part of safety measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
And, the celebrated Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) marshals will also be well prepared for any possible worse case scenario. Should a positive Covid-19 case be recorded, a reserve team would swoop into action to replace its bubble of members placed into isolation.
The Sakhir circuit will host the Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix 2020 from November 27 to 29 followed by the Formula 1 Rolex Sakhir Grand Prix 2020 from December 4 to 6.
A decision is pending on whether the two events will be open to spectators.
In addition, the World Endurance Championship (WEC) race at the BIC- 8 Hours of Bahrain, will take place on November 14. It will be the final race of WEC’s Season 8 and will commence at 2pm local time.
The Motorsports Marshals Club president Fayez Ramzi Fayez told the GDN yesterday the dedicated team of marshals is ready to help host the three major events amid Covid-19 regulations as stipulated by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA).
“The races won’t be the same but they will be held in a safe environment because of the strict Covid-19 FIA protocol that will be followed along with guidelines from the health authorities in Bahrain,” Mr Fayez told the GDN yesterday.
“There will be rigorous testing for everyone, strict adherence to social distancing protocols and other safety measures that will be taken this year due to the pandemic.”
Motorsport marshals are responsible for the safety of competitors. They are stationed at various points of danger around race tracks to assist them in case of any collisions, accidents or track problems.
Mr Fayez explained that team members, including their support and logistics personnel, will operate under strict special safety protocols.
“Teams will be in Covid-free bubbles with no direct interaction with other members or staff,” he said.
“Each team will have an alternative set up where other members in reserve can step in to cover if there is a case (of Covid-19) detected and that entire bubble has to be isolated.”
The FIA regulations, viewed by the GDN yesterday, shows that an approved test provider appointed by the FIA will be responsible for testing, or an alternative provider, accredited by health authorities.
The rules stipulate that attendees need to take a PCR test no more than five days after they took their pre-event test, and thereafter at least once every five days as long as they continue to attend the venue.
Additional screening such as body temperature check and a questionnaire will be filled out stating the person has no underlying health conditions or other risk factors.
However, the above protocols will be constantly revised by Bahrain’s authorities depending on the Covid-19 situation.
Organisers should provide sufficient quantities of medical face masks (to be replaced after four hours use), sanitisers and personal protective equipment(PPE). It should make provision for disposal of this waste too.
“Marshals will be wearing PPEs and have their own food with them as they will be assigned to a particular zone or area,” added Mr Fayez.
“They will remain in that area until the duration of their duty and will not go outside that zone.
“This is the ‘new normal’ and we are ready to execute these regulations during the three major events that will be held in Bahrain.”
Mr Fayez believes that unlike previous races, where they have between 800 to 1,000 marshals, this time they will be working with a minimum number of staff.
“Some of the marshals will be on standby in their homes and will be called upon if they are required,” said Mr Fayez. “We will open the online registration soon.”
Marshals will communicate online or via radio networks with each other.
Mr Fayez explained and despite the new challenges they face this year, they are ready to work with different units, including the F1 medical team, to ensure the races are held successfully and in a safe environment.
Mr Fayez earlier this month attended the 2020 Eifel Grand Prix in Germany to learn from their best practices and challenges to help with plans for the events in Bahrain.
Canadian Formula One driver Lance Stroll and team-owner father Lawrence tested positive for Covid-19 at the race.
The season-opener in Australia in March was cancelled after a McLaren employee tested positive, with the championship then stalled until July.
As well as an injection of global sporting excellence, the races in Bahrain will provide a much-needed boost to the economy, particularly to the hard-hit hospitality sector.
Even if fans are ruled out from attending, the F1 roadshow itself will witness the arrival of scores of support crew members, alongside the drivers and Formula One and FIA officials.
The second BIC race is set to be the penultimate round before the season concludes in Abu Dhabi on December 13.