Racing Point CEO & Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer on returning to racing following the delayed start to the 2020 F1 season due to the global Coronavirus outbreak.
With the factory shutdown having now been lifted, is it simply business as normal at Silverstone?
While the shutdown has indeed been lifted, we’re by no means taking anything for granted. So, to answer the question directly, it’s not business as usual – it’s business tailored to the new normal we now find ourselves in. We must continue to be vigilant in our effort to curtail further the spread of the virus – protecting the health and wellbeing of our teammates and those around us in the process. The situation continues to evolve and we’re ready to adapt as required.
How much work has gone into preparing the factory – and indeed the business – for the return of the workforce?
A huge amount of work has been carried out to prepare both our Silverstone factory and Brackley offices for a return to work – we’ve gone above and beyond the government advice in making our factory a safe place to work. We obviously need to adapt to a new way of working and we believe the measures we’ve put in place will ensure that everybody can work safely and efficiently.
What message do you have for those returning to work – and indeed to those who have continued working in a remote capacity to keep the team operational?
Seeing the factory re-open is a boost for everybody and an important step closer to going racing again in July. Obviously, we’re all keen to get back to doing what we love – but keeping our teammates safe and our facilities free from coronavirus is the absolute priority. A great deal of time, thought, and effort has gone into achieving that goal and will continue to do so. To those involved in that process, I extend my deepest gratitude. To those returning, I recognise their commitment as always and assure them that we’re doing everything in our power to keep them and their loved ones safe and healthy.
The revised European calendar has just been announced – starting with a double-header at the home of the team’s Title Partner, BWT. How pleased are you personally to be getting back out on track?
First and foremost, on a personal level and on behalf of the team, I applaud the work that has been done by all stakeholders over the past three months to get us back racing. Safety is paramount and we’re all treating our return to the racetrack responsibly. While clearly it won’t be the same without the fans in the grandstands – and we’ll sorely miss their enthusiasm and support – it’s entirely sensible to start the season behind closed doors. Doing so in Austria is particularly positive for us as a team given our ties to the country with BWT, so we’re very much looking forward to it.
It’s looking like a busy few months ahead, to say the least. Do you have any concerns about the impact this busy schedule will have on the team?
It’s going to be an intense few months for us all. But a great deal of thought has gone into this calendar from all relevant stakeholders – including the teams, Formula 1, the FIA, the circuit owners and so on. We’re all in agreement that the proposed plan is manageable and, knowing what I know of our team, they’ll relish the challenge. At the end of the day, we’re all racers. This is our passion and we’re excited to get back to it.
Are the team at all apprehensive about travelling to races and operating at close quarters in the paddock whilst coronavirus is still prevalent around the world?
I think it’s going to feel strange for all of us to be getting on an aeroplane, flying to a different country and heading to a racetrack after such a long time away. The setup when we get to the paddock will feel very different too initially, I’m sure – but just as we’ve all adapted to this new normality at home, I’m confident we’ll do so on the road. The processes and procedures we’ve implemented to keep everybody safe at the factory will apply just as stringently, if not more so, at the racetrack, so we’re in the best shape we can be.