(Motorsport-Total.com) – Even if the racing action at the start of the season in Spielberg did not stop, Corona changed Formula 1: no fans on the track, no driver parade, social distancing during interviews and the award ceremony. As correct and important as these measures are, the race weekend feels different with them.
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Race winner Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) says: “During the race, the focus is on the matter. So it makes no difference. But what I really enjoyed in normal Formula 1 is the driver parade before the race, all to see the fans and the flags of different nationalities. “
This atmosphere is missing in view of the empty stands – even after the race. “Above all, if you have a good result like I had here, it would be nice to celebrate it with the spectators, which we are sure to be missing a little now,” said Bottas. But he knew that his family and fans cheered on from home.
Bottas: It’s better to race than not at all
For them and for everyone in the paddock, it was better to “drive such a race than not to drive at all”. In this context, the Spielberg winner also praised the work of the FIA, FOM and Formula 1, which made the start of the season possible by adopting strict safety protocols and rules of conduct to protect everyone.
“It feels very safe, everything is well organized and fairly clear, so we all think the risk of someone getting really sick is very low. It’s good. I think everyone on our team, we feel very much here sure, “Bottas emphasizes, even if certain processes would have to become a little bit easier.
Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), runner-up in Spielberg, agrees with him when he says that he also misses the fans on the track. “I actually look at the stands during the race,” reveals the Ferrari driver. “Of course not this time, because there wasn’t much to see. (…) That is very strange.”
Norris misses the fans at the premiere podium
“But, as Valtteri said, it is better to drive such a race than nothing,” Leclerc continues. “I am so happy to be back on the track. Hopefully the fans enjoyed it from home and hopefully as soon as it is safe they will be able to come back to the track . “
Lando Norris (McLaren), who celebrated his first podium in the premier class on Sunday, “especially missed the cheers of the fans in the stands compared to Bottas and Lelcerc.” These guys are used to being on the podium quite often, for me it’s my first time, “he explains.
“I think the special thing about it is that the audience is always there and celebrating with you, whether they are your fans or not. It just makes the atmosphere so much and it brings a lot of excitement. If I do I’m here now, there are no fans that I can share with. That makes it a little bit more difficult. “
Ricciardo praises the smooth process in Spielberg
Nonetheless, the Spielberg third is also happy that it can be driven again at all. His future teammate at McLaren, Daniel Ricciardo (currently Renault), says: “I definitely take my hat off to everyone who has contributed to making this happen, including Austria, which made the start.”
Although it was new territory for everyone to have a race weekend under corona measures, “everything went pretty smoothly”, Ricciardo praised the organization on site. “The tests were fine, all the COVID things we had to do, everything was on time. (…) I think they did a very good job.”
The Renault driver also admits: “It will always be strange not to have fans and all of this, but once we got started, it felt like we were back there and competing. It felt like that real how it’s possible at the moment. I’m really happy with how everything went. “
For Grosjean, “everything feels pretty similar”
Romain Grosjean (Haas), President of the GDPA drivers’ association, also reports the first Formula 1 weekend of the season accordingly positively. “I think we were all very happy to be here and I think it generally worked out well,” said the Frenchman, who felt quite comfortable despite the many measures.
“Yes, it’s not the greatest thing to always wear masks. Yes, the atmosphere before the race is a little different. There are fewer people in the paddock, the fans are not in the stands. And yes, we missed that. But if once you’re in the car and ready for the race, everything feels pretty similar. “