The Coronavirus pandemic silenced the engines as it had not happened since World War II, a stop that includes Formula 1, Nascar and Moto GP, but also Road Tourism (TC), Super TC2000 and National Tourism (TN) . Although the races of March and April were initially suspended, with the days cancellations and postponements were announced, which in some cases reach the end of May, which translates into enormous economic losses for organizers and drivers who need to display their cars to meet the sponsors. Meanwhile, the leaders of the categories begin to rethink how to adapt the calendars to play as many competitions as possible during the season, as long as the merciless Covid-19 is controlled.
Flyers in quarantine
The local motor sport had its last day on Sunday 15, with the 2nd date of the TN in San Luis and the 1st of the Top Race V6 in Entre Ríos. It was a strange weekend, with no audience in the stands, with minimal and indispensable staff on the slopes and widespread concern about the pandemic. “No one imagined such a situation. There were nuances because there were people who wanted to run and others who did not. When the topic began to grow, the category was already installed in San Luis,” Hugo Paoletti, president of the Association, told this newspaper. Pilots Automobile Tourism (APAT), the organizing body of the TN, before clarifying that it was decided to run after the government of San Luis provided health and safety guarantees, and that none of those present at the road had symptoms related to the virus in the later days.
There was a certainty among the participants that it would be the last time the engines would roar in who knows how long. As with all sports disciplines, motorsport has been completely paralyzed since Monday the 16th. And this will continue at least until the end of April. The TC suspended the appointments of Concordia (3/29) and La Pampa (12/4) and, as stated to Page / 12 from the Association of Career Tourism Brokers (ACTC), would resume the activity on the 26 of next month. On the other hand, the Super TC2000 canceled its inaugural date of 22/3 in San Juan and “it is highly probable” that the same will happen with the second, to be held on 5/4 in Rosario. “Hopefully we can start in May. If so, it may be without an audience. Equally, they are all conjectures. The beginning of the activity will be determined by the guidelines of the national and provincial governments. We will comply,” says Francisco Aldinio, general manager. of AutoSports SA, in charge of organizing the STC2000.
Although they agree that the main thing is to stop the circulation of the virus (“these are moments when we should all be in solidarity”, they affirm), they know that the main collateral damage is the potential loss of labor sources. “There are between 1,200 and 1,200 families working in the TN. If this lasts a long time, they will be out of work. That problem is not in the first place because health is the main thing, but if unemployment continues from here on, It will complicate “, predicts Paoletti, for whom it is difficult to know how the season will continue a changing and unpredictable context of decisions made” day by day “. The only certainty is that all the categories will do their best to contest the greatest number of competitions, trying not to overlap dates and respecting the epidemiological measures of the moment. From the ACTC they expect to run 15 of the 16 races, while the TN and STC2000, which must have a minimum of 10 events (out of 12 scheduled) for their championships to be official, do not rule out any double date in the second semester or, in the case of the TN, finish the tournament in January.
The virus without borders
The three most important races in the world are the Indianapolis 500, the Formula 1 Grand Monaco and the Le Mans 24 hours. The first two are held in late May, while the other is held in mid-June. 2020 will be the first year without that treble in more than six decades, as last week the cancellation of the Monegasque event (present on the F1 calendar uninterruptedly since 1954) and the postponement of endurance competition until September 19th. It remains to be seen what the Indycar will decide, which has already canceled the four races in March and April and would start its season in early May. At the close of this note, the legendary Indy 500 was maintained on May 24, and the Nascar, the most popular category in that country, would return to the tracks on May 3. On the other hand, the World Rally Championship ended the race in Mexico a day earlier than planned and canceled Argentina's April date, while the Moto GP has not yet started its championship and postponed its visit to Río Hondo from April 19 to November 22th. The fate of the two-wheel event is a real mystery, since during May and June it has two races in Spain, one in Italy and the other in France, the three most affected countries in Europe.
Monaco is not the only Grand Prix canceled. Formula 1 was preparing to start 2020 with 22 appointments, a record in its almost 70-year history, until the Chinese Grand Prix was postponed on February 12, which had to be held on April 19 at the Shanghai track. But at the beginning of March, when the virus began to devastate Europe, the headquarters of the main teams and the residence of all the pilots, the picture changed completely. “I don't know why we are here,” said multiple champion Lewis Hamilton in the lead-up to an Australian Grand Prix that was due to start its practice activity on Friday, March 13, when the major soccer leagues and even the NBA had already suspended their matches until further notice. There was a reason for running to be attempted. Rather, 30 million reasons: that's the amount of dollars the country of kangaroos pays to host F1 in Melbourne. The knock out blow came the confirmation of an infected in the McLaren team and the subsequent departure of the circuit of all its members, which forced the organizers and team leaders to meet to cancel the GP hours before its start.
Since then the races fell like a domino. First that of Bahrain, scheduled for the last Sunday, then that of Vietnam (5/4), and last week those of the Netherlands (3/5), Spain (10/5) and Monaco (24/5). It was announced on Monday that the Azerbaijan GP also fell on 7/6, so F1 would start its season in Canada on 14/6. According to the authorities, the idea is to relocate some canceled events – the one with the most chances is the one in Holland, which returned to the calendar thanks to the phenomenon generated by the local pilot Max Verstappen – during the summer vacation period in August and December , a matter of reaching the end of the year with between 16 and 18 races. That recess was “brought forward” to March and April to facilitate quarantines, while at the request of the teams the technical modifications that were to be implemented next year will remain until 2022. The mechanics and engineers, however, continue to work, although not in the cars. Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren and Williams will put their facilities at the service of the development of new medical equipment and the production of respirators, the same as Ferrari, whose owners donated another ten million euros to fight the virus.