How F1 teams have to adapt to COVID-19 garage protocols
Racing Point Formula 1 technical director Andrew Green says routine pit garage jobs will take longer as a result of the new restrictions during race weekends.
Lance Stroll gave the RP20 a run in what was officially a 100kms promotional event, but the team also took the opportunity to prepare for the start of the season by trialling the social distancing and PPE requirements that are now mandated by the FIA for race weekends.
Green believes that for example a power unit change could take twice as long as it would in normal circumstances, and stresses that the emphasis for all teams will now be on efficiency and reliability throughout race weekend.
"It's very different, and it's going to be a real challenge going forward," said Green. "It's basically down to respecting the distance between engineers when they are working on the car, and the type of personal protection they have to wear.
"That effectively changes the time it takes to do jobs on the car. Certain jobs now take a lot longer, and we have to manage that. We only have a certain amount of time trackside to work on the car when we're in a race environment, and we have curfews in place.
"So we have to now look at how long it takes to change and modify parts on the car that we would normally do, reschedule them so we make sure that we are doing what we're doing what we need to do during a race weekend, and not contravening the curfew regulations. That's a big part of what we were trying to learn yesterday."
Green highlighted unscheduled power unit changes as now being much harder – and that could mean a driver misses an afternoon session if he has a technical problem in the morning.
"We hope we don't have to do one in a hurry, that's for sure! I suspect changing an engine now will take twice as long as it used to. Only certain members of the crew are working on the car at any one time, and that really does limit the speed at which you can do a power unit change. Depending when a power unit is required, it's going to be very challenging.
"What you don't want to do is try and do too much in a weekend now, that's the clear message that we've got out of it. We've got to be really careful that we focus on the important part of the weekend, get that done right, get that done efficiently, and then you look at all the other areas. It just focuses your attention much more.
"It's more a case of making sure that the car is built correctly, and robustly, so that we don't have to go in and change things that we wouldn't normally want to change.
"So reliability is going to be a key factor in keeping things running super smoothly. Once you get a big reliability issue then that's going start putting strain on the team, to get parts repaired or modified in time."
Green also suggested that the drivers have to be even more wary than usual about accidents: "We've got two drivers who should be aware that if they do go off during a practice session and do a lot of damage it potentially could take a lot longer to repair. I think they'll be well aware of that."
Green says that although Racing Point is one of the teams in a position to run a car at a circuit before Austria, it won't have a particular advantage.
"Not really. It was a very limited exposure to this type of working. You can attempt to do a lot of work at the factory, if you wanted to, it was just trying to put it in a live environment.
"It was definitely a big learning morning, we're on a steep learning curve, and we'll make modifications over the next few events to suit. It did give us a real heads-up on how challenging race weekends are going to be whilst we're trying to run the car.
"I think some teams will have different approaches. Not everyone works with Mercedes power units, and I have no idea what the protocol is for a Renault power unit, or a Ferrari power unit, so there are going to be differences.
"We're trying to adapt with the team that we're working with. Maybe some teams will end up being slightly more efficient, because of the way that they've adopted."
Lance Stroll, Racing Point RP19, is returned to the garage
Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images
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