McLaren was one of the first team’s in the Melbourne paddock impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, from that moment team boss Zak Brown had to make the toughest call of his life and withdraw the team from the Australian Grand Prix which triggered the life in pause-mode we have currently.
In line with all sports around the world, Formula 1 is in limbo with the season yet to commence and, by all accounts, F1 is set to postpone/cancel the crown jewel of the sport – the Monaco Grand Prix – with June bandied about as the earliest we are likely to have a race, and that’s the best-case scenario.
With staff members contracting the virus, there was no option for the team who acted rapidly to lockdown the potentially affected staff and put safety of their staff above everything else. A move that has been universally applauded.
With regard to the person afflicted by the coronavirus, Brown revealed: “I’m happy to report that our team member affected with the virus is recovering well and the symptoms have gone and our people in quarantine are in good spirits. The support they have been getting from their team-mates, our partners, members of the F1 community and fans from around the world has been fantastic and our thanks go out to all of them.”
He added: “The focus, calmness and professionalism was outstanding across the team. We had leaders stepping up everywhere and that is testament to our people. We had been continually scenario-planning together with the team back in the UK, so we knew what our options were in the event of various outcomes.”
While McLaren were quick to make the brave call to withdraw, F1 and FIA appeared to dither while decisions needed to be taken as the regional epidemic had turned into a global pandemic swiftly.
Brown rallied his F1 team principal Andreas Seidl to deal with the evolving saga, “Andreas and I already agreed that if we had a positive case in the garage there was only one option. As I said before, as a racer it was the hardest decision I’ve had to take but as CEO it was the easiest.
“Our people come first and Andreas feels very strongly about this too. When the news came through on Thursday evening Andreas and I were at dinner with one of our shareholders.
“We immediately returned to the team hotel to join our race team leadership and while Andreas focused on leading the team, I focused on our board and shareholders, who were absolutely supportive I must say, while informing the other teams, F1 and the FIA.”