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Formula 1 season ready to start under strict Covid-19 controls

The starting grid of the 2019 Austrian GP at Red Bull Ring (by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Austria will host the first behind-closed-doors Formula 1 race of the 2020 season this weekend with stringent health and safety protocols in place.

The Red Bull Ring, where the opening two races of the Covid-19-disrupted calendar are being hosted, is in a “military like” lockdown according to Agence France-Presse.

Safety measures produced by the race organisers and teams include everyone with access to the track submitting to Covid-19 testing and regular temperature checks. Teams have been reduced to a maximum of 80 staff and will operate in small groups that will not mix with each other. The teams will travel to the venue in motor-homes and once onsite will use the facilities in these to cook and eat.

World champions Mercedes are deploying a tracing app which all team members must use.

Formula One technical director Ross Brawn said: “The meticulous approach of the teams to both logistics and engineering and procedures and protocols is what we’ve transferred into our approach to dealing with this challenge.”

Meanwhile, McLaren’s Formula One future has been bolstered with a new financing arrangement tied to its majority shareholder. The National Bank of Bahrain announced on Monday a $184.26m (€165.41m) financing facility for the McLaren Group, which includes the team and supercar manufacturer, Reuters reports. The sovereign wealth fund of Bahrain, Mumtalakat Holding Co, is McLaren’s majority shareholder.

McLaren were the first team to furlough staff, with drivers Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz also taking pay cuts, and have had to make redundancies.