“Go the opposite way” – That’s Daniel Ricciardo’s first thought about how Melbourne could host a double-header of Formula One if the F1 Calendar is thrown into chaos this year by COVID-19 outbreaks in countries currently on their list of places to go.
The Brazilian Formula One Grand prix is currently scheduled to be held on the 7th of November, with the teams, drivers and cars all heading to Melbourne straight afterwards for a race two weeks later on the 21st.
At the time of recording, Brazil had had 14 million COVID Cases, suffered a tragic 380,000 deaths, and just in the last seven days over 440,000 new cases.
With that in mind, it’s hard to imagine things will be under control too soon, and while the sport may be keen to look at how they can create a travel bubble into Brazil, the likelyhood of Australian Health and Government officials allowing Formula One into Australia from a nation so deep in the pandemic are quite low, with out some extreme quarantine measures.
Logistically, if you were to come to Australia from Mexico (the race before Brazil), and even with two weeks of quarantine, could fit in two races before the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix date.
When asked about this by EFTM, Daniel Ricciardo spoke of the fact the Brazil into Australia calendar was in it of itself a challenge “logistically alone you’re swapping one end of a globe to the other so that’s a challenge in itself”
Pressed on the concern around Brazil and Covid, Ricciardo said “Yeah I am aware Brazil currently is not in a good place with COVID”.
He noted that it would be unlikely the sport would go there if in the current circumstances “currently if we were scheduled to go there this weekend then I’m pretty convinced we’d be up in the air, I don’t think we’d be, let’s say. all in.”
And while it is around six months away, a decision may need to be made sooner rather than later to ensure the calendar can be as full as the sports owners would like – Ricciardo saying “I know they’re obviously keen on 23 (races) this year, and a bit like last year, I’m sure there are maybe some circuits that could fill some gaps if some are lost so we’ll see”
“I think it’s for now, on the hope that by then things settle down, but if it’s still as it is then that race could potentially be obviously in question. “
As he started to think about the gruelling schedule of “fly away” events, it was clear Ricciardo had an idea for F1 Managment – suggesting “maybe a double header in Australia!“
In Bahrain, two Grand Prix were held in 2020 in back to back weeks, but using a different track layout. When we asked Daniel how Melbourne would do it, his response was immediate, saying “Reverse. Go the opposite way, clockwise and anti-clockwise“
As he thought it through, he continued “I would love, especially if there is any form of quarantine when we get there, to do a double header to make the time worth while…“
Outside of the difficult idea to run an opposite direction race (moving fences for car and marshall openings, lack of run off areas etc), EFTM put to him that The Bend outside Adelaide could be an alternative second venue.
When asked about The Bend Ricciardo said “I’ve seen a track map, but i’ve never visually seen it…”
Regardless, the 2021 F1 Calendar is packed and busy, so with any potential changes, it seems logical Australian Grand Prix bosses would have a willing ear in Daniel Ricciardo and perhaps more drivers, if there was talk of more than one race here.
Ricciardo said “all the drivers love going to Melbourne for the race…“
“If I called all the drivers right now and said hey what do you feel about spending two weeks in Australia, i’m pretty sure none of them are going to whinge and moan.“
Your move Australian Grand Prix corporation. Your move.