Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Red Bull Ring, 2019

F1 teams to be limited to 80 staff each at “Closed Events”

2020 F1 season

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Formula 1’s races behind closed doors will officially be referred to as “Closed Events” when the championship starts in July.

New rules are being planned which will govern how races take place without spectators. Teams’ personnel will be reduced to a bare minimum in order to limit the risk of spreading the pandemic.

RaceFans has learned teams will be limited to a maximum of 80 people within the circuit between the beginning and end of a Closed Event. The cap was previously indicated by FIA Medical Commission president Gerard Saillant in an interview for RaceFans earlier this month.

Of these 80, no more than 60 may be involved in operating the team’s two cars – the same restriction which is in place for ‘Open Events’ where spectators may attend. This figure excludes staff members primarily concerned with hospitality, sponsors, marketing, public relations, security and transport.

The FIA and Commercial Rights Holder – Liberty Media – will decide which rounds are run as Closed Events. These are expected to include the two season-opening races at the Red Bull Ring beginning on July 5th, and other subsequent races in Europe.

Formula 1 chairman and CEO Chase Carey said earlier this month he hopes F1 will be able to hold ‘Open Events’ with fans in attendance “in the latter part of the year”.

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 30 comments on “F1 teams to be limited to 80 staff each at “Closed Events””

    1. Seriously?
      What’s the point of the cap at 80, then? What are the other 20 (non car-related) persons doing without any hospitality, merch and security needed, and a fraction of the media requirements? Do they really need to be there ‘during’ the event?

      Cap it at 20 per team. All the strategy and data mining can be done remotely. If 20 people can’t make two cars run for a few hours, then F1 needs to change the technical rules regarding how (over)complicated the cars are.

      Better still, cap it at 20 and ban all strategists and remote data access. Let the driver tell his engineer how the car feels and what needs to change with the setup and when he needs to pit.

      They’d have a much better chance of getting the show on the road with 200 people compared to wanting to tour 800 people, plus FIA/Liberty big heads and stewards.

      1. Support crew like the ones doing the catering ect.ect. is the other 20. Now I really think the base minimum of operate 1 Formule One car is more then you think…..
        1 car:
        2 each wheel, 1 for front wing, 1 for rear wing, 6 for bodywork and for the engine, 1 engineer.
        And i am sure i am forgetting some those behind the walls.
        Pitcrew for pitstops are probaly the same working on the car otherwise you have 15 extra

        Pitwall teamleader, strategist, pitleader

        So 34 +4 = 38 then the 20 support

        1. lol drivers, personal trainer, PR i forgot.

        2. I understand how many people they bring to each event when there are no limits on how many people can be involved.
          The difference is how many people are actually needed to run two cars.
          They don’t need 16 people for a pitstop, for example. They could do it with 4, like other series do. They just want to do it faster so they use more people.
          They don’t need to have a bunch of strategists watching the competition’s performance and strategies.

          How many people does it take to run a car at Goodwood or any other PR event, for example. They don’t take 80 to those.
          Sure, they need a few more than the 8 or 10 that do those events, but they don’t need 80.

          1. They could do it with 4, like other series do.

            Are those other series doing it with 4 because of pandemic-related restrictions? I think not, they do so because that is how the rules were structured for the sport and show required for that series.

            They don’t need to have a bunch of strategists watching the competition’s performance and strategies.

            Again, where F1 has strategists, other series (I think oval racing) has spotters.

            I don’t think we are at the point where we have to fundamentally change the way F1 pitstops are executed – the crew are anyway helmetted up, so tossing a mask in seems reasonable. I am one of those who enjoys the F1 pitstop ballet, and if I wanted to see a guy running around with a jerrycan of fuel, I’d watch one of those other series.

            I’m also not a fan of being too prescriptive about how to do things (hey, maybe F1 might not be my thing soon enough!) – so comparisons to Goodwood or other series might not be the way to approach this.

            I am personally pleased that they’ve not altered how teams execute their races, by cutting back on the crew. That said, it would be interesting to know if there is the possibility that cutting the 80 number down to a lower figure means racing can resume sooner, or not.

            1. The less people that can be seen in an F1 broadcast, the better the image that F1 is sending that they are taking this threat seriously.
              Showing 20 people huddling together around an F1 car isn’t really sending a very positive message, is it?
              Pit lane will look almost the same as before – only less media may (possibly) be present.

              I expect many media outlets will be very quick to point out how busy the F1 pit lane appears when racing resumes in Austria.
              And I also won’t be surprised to read when several F1 crew members go down with the virus, spreading it throughout the pit lane, and that racing will be put on hold again until the threat reduces further, or even tighter restrictions are put in place.

          2. What happens if someone crashes? Will only 4 people be forced to rebuild the car themselves. That would mean that if a driver crashed in qualifying, there might be a chance that he won’t make the race.

            1. That would be pretty terrible. But what the races? How will FOM be able to televise F1 without multiple celebrity cutaways?!

              Perhaps some of the 20 will be reserved for 15-18 celebs. All wearing masks and face shields to make the ghost racing spectacle complete.

    2. no more than 60 may be involved in operating the team’s two cars

      I presume that this includes the drivers?
      Will backup drivers be available, if so will they be included within the other 20?

      I guess the main gauge of the true numbers required is how many people does it take to rebuild a car after a crash in qualifying.

      1. I guess the main gauge of the true numbers required is how many people does it take to rebuild a car after a crash in qualifying.

        Given that the number of technical staff is unchanged at 60 (i.e. pit wall, pit crew, garage), I don’t think the restriction of 80 will change the ability to rebuild a car, @eurobrun

        1. I meant could they have less!

          1. @eurobrun, Can you seriously see 60 mechanics working on 1 car ?

            1. No, which is why I think it should be less!!!

    3. I reckon they could keep this limit even after pandemic ends. Just for cost saving.

      Why they need more than 60 people to operate two cars is… let’s just say incomprehensible.

      1. @jureo – the cost associated with having more than 60 people (or 80, if we toss in essential non-technical staff like hospitality) isn’t a mandatory expense nor a requirement of participation in F1. No one was – in a non-pandemic world – holding a gun to Williams, McLaren, Haas or Renault’s heads and saying “Look here, you’ve gotta bring 50 additional employees because this is F1”.

        If you want to look for cost savings, you’ll have to look within the 60, not outside it. Financially-challenged teams will have already been looking at the cost-benefit analysis of every head outside the core 60.

        If Mercedes feels like it’s worth their while to bring 30 extra people just to hand out Mercedes-branded caps, t-shirts and swag, I’d say let them.

        1. Nobody is forcing backmarkers to compete in an anti competitive formula, yet they do it.

          Wouldnt it benefit everyone to see say 10 people less at the pits?

      2. I would say excessive, exorbitant, indulgent, extravagant and possibly even ridiculous – but incomprehensible is pretty good too.

      3. The voice of reason,as usual. Thanks @jureo

    4. That does seem like a lot of people in the situation we are currently in.

      1. I guess that they want to maximise the number of people who will be safely overseas when infected lunatics cross the country at home.
        @bernasaurus

        1. @coldfly Ha! Fair call

    5. The guys that actually work on the cars in the garages & handle the pit stops are those that you see & there are maybe 10-15 per-car. They will be in the garages building them, Repairing them, Working on setup changes & maintaining them as well as tearing them down.

      Outside of them you have separate smaller teams who specialize in specific areas. You’ll have an engine team who will be made up of guys from the engine supplier, People from the fuel/oil suppliers, Tire engineer’s, Those who specialize in electronics, Gearbox specialists etc..

      Then you’ll have the race engineer & strategy teams & the guys on the pit wall.

      And of course the guys monitoring the data, Some will be part of the team but some will also be from the engine supplier. Some of that can be done off-site but some of it also needs to be done at the track because they need it in real time & there is a very slight delay with the off-site data.

      Other categories that may run smaller teams don’t have a lot of this stuff because been spec categories they don’t need it because you don’t have the constant development or evolution that you do in F1. And due to that they also tend to be far less technical because they don’t need to be & are not aiming to be.

      1. @gt-racer it is good to have an informed opinion on the topic that gives a clearer picture of what the roles of those individuals are and why they are necessary, rather than having people who seem to take the attitude that, because they can’t understand what their role is, they assume it can be dispensed with.

        1. All the usual instant experts, like we saw when the virus started spreading.

        2. Although I would point out that there are more like 20+ involved in a pitstop.

      2. But hasn’t it all got a bit ridiculous that all this money is spent by each team to send two cars out to race. The sport elite has demanded millions of pound to pay someone with talent at a specific ability and who pays for it; the fans. For the price of a summer holiday you can go and watch a GP for the weekend. So called super sports stars are paid millions of pounds for doing something they enjoy doing with little more risk to life than the man who empties my bins each week and who gets paid a pittance. This is just not F1 but professional sport in general, why should fans pay out hard earned money to give people doing something that is theirs dream to gain extranomical wealth.

        1. The highly paid sports stars are the top percentiles
          In F1 out of thousands of kids getting into karting only 20 can be on the grid
          Others get absorbed into other series and still get decent money although not millionaires
          The rest have to find something to do
          In Football for example, all we see are the top divisions of Europe’s elite
          We don’t see the Eastern Europe, Africa etc where players getting a minor sideline injury means game over since medical bills partly come out of pocket

        2. @feral
          Hmm maybe, you know, just don’t ‘give’ people your hard earned money if you feel like they don’t deserve it, no?
          Or i’m i missing something?

      3. @gt-racer, Looking at your list I see several categories that could surely be temporarily dispensed with due to circumstances. Better half a dozen races with no car development than half a dozen cancelled races.

    6. It actually doesn’t seem all that much less, if any, that would normally be involved in a race. there would be a significantly higher number for a race with spectators etc from last year as each team would also have a largeish number involved in catering, hospitality and PR in their hospitality suites but the actual number involved on the racing side would have been about the same.

      Its possible that there may be some reduction in the numbers of “data” people, who could be relocated back to the factory, but other than that, the numbers of mechanics/engineers directly responsible for each car plus driver/driver support staff and engineer/strategy people would only be about 80 anyway.

      My guess – no team has really had to sacrifice much form a “racing team” perspective to race at a closed event. This suggests that the sort of announcement of new rules by the FIA is nothing more than a publicity exercise designed to make it seem like they care greatly about the virus and its impact when in reality not a great deal has changed for teams other than they won’t need to provide facilities for guests and spectators.

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