Szafnauer convinced F1 could have ‘raced safely’ in Melbourne

Racing Point team boss Otmar Szafnauer believes in hindsight that F1 could have “raced safely” in Melbourne because the risks of the COVID-19 disease spreading in the paddock were low.

Organizers and F1 called off the Australian Grand Prix at the eleventh hour on the Friday following McLaren’s withdrawal from the event the day before, when one of its staff tested positive for the coronavirus, and overnight talks with the team bosses.

Racing Point was one of three outfits along with Red Bull and AlphaTauri that was ready to go ahead and race despite the growing concerns.

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“It was difficult to predict the future there in Melbourne, but when I look back at it now, had we raced, I think we would have raced safely,” Szafnauer told CNN.

“The risk was very low, and I think we could have put the race on. The Australian government gave us the go-ahead to do so.

“However, there was a big unknown at the time, and because of the unknown, I think we made a cautious decision not to race.”

Szafnauer revealed that the outcome of the meeting between F1, the organizers and the teams was initially positive, which led to him waking up on Friday morning believing the day would proceed as normal.

“On Thursday night at 1:30, 2 in the morning, we left the meeting, and at that point, the majority voted to race,” explained the American.

“We went to bed, got up four hours later, and by the time I got to the paddock, everyone said: ‘We’re not racing’. I said: ‘Yes we are, it was only four hours ago we voted to race!’

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“We took a risk-averse stance, and that was probably the right thing to do. However, looking back, had we raced, I think we would have done so safely.”

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