This weekend Formula One will return to Melbourne ‘s Albert Park , where in 2020 the Circus reached its lowest point in its history . During the more than seven decades of life of the category, many questionable decisions have been taken, some of which are exclusively the children of the logic dictated by the “God of money” . Nonetheless, what happened in Australia a little over two years ago probably represents the pinnacle of squalor . It is worth taking a step back in time to relive those hectic hours . Because even if we all would like to forget those dark moments, it is good to remember what happened so that it is an exemplary lesson on how NOT to behave .
The race is scheduled for the weekend of 13-15 March . In China, Covid-19 has been a serious problem for months now, but for a long time the disease seems to be relegated to China’s borders. It is a pious illusion. At the end of February, the first cases were also recorded in Europe and the Americas. The situation worsened. On Monday 9 March Italy is the first Western country to enter the lockdown regime . At the same time, almost all industrialized nations are gradually closing their borders and taking containment measures on their territories, which causes a stock market crash on Thursday 12 March.
The world of sport, not just motorsport, comes to a halt. MotoGP and Indycar postpone the start of their seasons to a later date, while in Japan discussions are starting on the possibility of postponing the Tokyo Olympics to 2021 . Incredibly, F1 seems deaf and blind. The Circus arrives en masse in Australia as if nothing had happened. Of course, there is a lot of concern in the paddock, but preparations for the GP are continuing. Australian public opinion is dismayed , will a strong concentration of people really be allowed, with the risk of a huge outbreak exploding? Pressure begins on the state of Victoria to cancel the tender.
Ross Brawn , sporting director of the Circus, stalled and announced that the event could be suspended if it is discovered that a team is affected by the coronavirus. So commissioners, reporters, photographers and support staff don’t matter? The story takes on farcical contours, because all this agitation does not prevent the teams from fighting for technical and sporting reasons . Ferrari is in the eye of the storm for the controversial “secret agreement” entered into with the FIA regarding the accusation of using an illegal power unit during 2019, but above all Red Bull fires on the Mercedes DAS , which for its part it defends itself vigorously. Vacant controversy that nobody, apart from the protagonists, cares about.
While all major international sporting events are canceled or postponed, Formula 1 stands out for its stubbornness . Only a few pilots take positions. The most determined is Kimi Räikkönen , who in no uncertain terms asks for the cancellation of the Grand Prix, remaining unheard. On Thursday afternoon, however, F1 is also put in front of the evidence. McLaren member tests positive for swab. The team announces his retirement from the GP and the quarantine of all his men. It is now assumed that the appointment will skip, but it is not. The organizers , worried about the economic consequences of a cancellation, are lobbying to move forward. Politics, in the person of the premier of the state of Victoria, is distinguished in the negative by its ponziopilatismo .
On Thursday evening in Australia, as stock markets around the world are sinking, team principals meet with race director Michael Masi and Ross Brawn to discuss what to do next. It turns on the grotesque because two sides are formed. Ferrari, McLaren, Renault and Alfa Romeo are in favor of cancellation . Mercedes, Red Bull, Alpha Tauri and Racing Point, on the other hand , are pushing for racing behind closed doors . Williams and Haas, for their part, take no position. It is the stalemate. Four teams want to run, four don’t and two abstain. The negotiations last for hours, but nothing changes. It’s up to Ross Brawn to decide and his choice is to move on .
In Melbourne it is the morning of Friday the 13th and the teams are heading towards Albert Park to stage the first free practice session. From Europe, where it is late at night, Toto Wolff receives a call from Ola Källenius , chairman of the board of directors of Daimler-Benz. The Swedish manager reminds him of the world situation and underlines how competing for the GP would be irreparable damage to image . So he “suggests” that he reconsider his vote. The Viennese obeys and jumps the barricade, siding with those who push for cancellation.
Red Bull, supported by Alpha Tauri and Racing Point, stubbornly continues to want to compete, but this position is now in the minority. Moreover, it turns out that Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen are not at the circuit, because they have returned to Europe on their own initiative! Less than two hours before the start of free practice , the official announcement finally arrives . The 2020 Australian Grand Prix is ”postponed” to a later date. It will never be held, like so many other non-European events. Formula 1 is saved for a corner , but the huge fool remains alive in the memories even today.