Behind The Headlines – Covering Coronavirus

Behind The Headlines Features

The last four-five months has been like nothing I have had to cover before, a virus which effetely shut down the whole world and not just Formula One. This is a very different story to one we have covered before as it wasn’t a self-made problem for Formula One, it was one which it had no control over.

Thinking back to when the Chinese Grand Prix was postponed, I didn’t expect then how fast Coronavirus would spread and become the only story in the world. Everything changed in the week leading up to Melbourne, we had countries beginning to lock down and then as we went to publish that evening’s F1 Today at 19:00GMT we still didn’t know if the race was on, it wasn’t till 01:00 we got confirmation of cancellation.

Reporting the story of six McLaren members testing positive was alarming and knowing how close this paddock is it soon became clear that the race was going to be cancelled. Its also a story our team are living, we earn no money from this site some have been furloughed from work.

Within days we were facing twelve weeks of isolation, at the time of three races being postponed the crisis in Europe hadn’t become grave. But soon enough we had bad outbreaks in the UK and Italy, where most of the teams are base and soon F1 was shutdown.

Despite this F1 responded to the crisis, the DNA of the sport is to innovate and in these unprecedented times teams put aside rivalry to come together to aid the unfolding crisis. Project Pit Lane brought together the seven UK based teams building equipment for the NHS. I think it the real-world application of F1 is beneficial for all of us.

The postponements kept coming, the most disappointing for everyone I believe was Monaco the highlight of the season, more would follow. It soon began to emerge that street circuits were off this year as Baku and Singapore were all cancelled.

We thought as races where postponed or cancelled and as replacements came forwards, it was important to give context to what was going on with the pandemic in each country.

We then we had the shooting of George Floyd, this exposed another weakness in F1 that it’s a white male-dominated sport. F1’s response is beginning, but as it is in its early phase it’s too early to assess what

We have all been living through this crisis, it has been a story which has changed by the day. You needed to separate the facts an option, what we tried to do is look at the virus in the context of F1.

The sport hasn’t faced a crisis like this, I think from what I have reported over the last few months as exposed the business model of F1. We often think of F1 as a sport swimming in money, but it survives on racing and sponsors.

Looking at the Q1 results in late April and early May both for the teams and Liberty, it is clear that everyone is losing money. I think this is going to be a story we will be covering well into next year when hopefully we get a normal season.

But we mustn’t think now with the season beginning in Austria this pandemic is over, there could still be more disruption as the sport tries to organise the autumn/winter leg…

Join us for full coverage of the Austrian Grand Prix starting tomorrow with the Season Prixview…


Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.