Nascar, Indycar and Supercar racing have all resumed in recent weeks, and this weekend it is Formula 1's turn.

The Red Bull Ring in Speilberg, Austria, where much of the Sound of Music movie was filmed in the '70s, will resound to the sound of F1 cars revving up in anger for the first time since testing at Barcelona back in February.

F1 cars now run V6 turbo engines and no longer produce the piercing high pitch that the V8s and V10s produced, but the sound of an F1 car will nonetheless be music to many ears. Unfortunately, that will not include the fans for probably all of the eight races on the revised schedule.

Those events will be "closed" just as we have seen with Nascar, Indycar and Supercars, and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says it will be new territory for F1.


"I think we know what to do, I think we know that protecting our staff and everybody who attends is the main priority," Wolff says. "But, equally, it's new ground, we've never been in this situation. We're talking a lot about bubbles, less interaction with the other teams, you guys (the media) and the fans, and that will be a new experience.

"F1 has always been able to take out the positives and, if we're able to provide a great show on Saturday and Sunday, I think that's going to compensate for the weirdness."

Despite the positive slant put on the questionable return of F1 by Wolff, there are reservations.

Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul is fearful that one positive Covid-19 test could see a repeat of what happened in Melbourne, Australia for the season opener. In the end, the race could not proceed because a McLaren team member tested positive and the event unravelled. While F1 management has stated one positive test won't see the event cancelled, as happened in Australia, Abitetoul remains sceptical.

"I think really it's a balance between the risk and practicality of the situation. That balance is difficult to find," he told Autosport.

"I think the biggest challenge will be really in the implementation. We have formed a group and subgroup so that, if there is a positive case, it remains limited to a subgroup."

"If that positive case is happening on a Saturday morning, you are not going to qualify and you are not going to participate in the race."

We have already seen on the international sporting scene, the danger of resuming too soon.


World tennis number one Novak Djokovic thought it was a good idea to organize a charity event in his home country of Serbia and neighbouring Croatia, called the Adria tour, inviting the likes of Gregor Dimitrov, Alex Zverev and Marin Cilic.

Unfortunately, Dimitrov, Borna Coric, Viktor Troicki, Djokovic's coach Goran Ivanisevic and Djokovic and his wife, Jelena, all tested positive for coronavirus, and the event was cancelled amid universal condemnation of the event organisers, the Djokovic family.

Novak's father, Srdjan, was quick to blame Dimitrov for apparently bringing the virus to the event, which just added to the controversy and what many people, current players included, regarded as arrogance, without actually using the word.

Nick Kyrgios, himself a controversial player with his on-court antics including sledging fellow players and racket abuse, called Djokovic a "bonehead".

Former British number one Greg Rusedski was a little more refined in his criticism.

"It's as if coronavirus has passed?" he wrote. "How was this managed and why no concern for public social distancing and face masks. I know the figures in Serbia but why are they able to do this?"


Djokovic has apologised, saying he is "so deeply sorry for harm caused" but insists that he had done everything according to the rules, except videos of the players hugging and shaking hands and dancing in a nightclub prove Djokovic had not followed the social distancing rules at all.

He posted a quote on Instagram from Patriarch Pavie, the 44th Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

"Boats don't sink because of the water that surrounds them, but because of the water that enters unto them. Don't allow the surroundings to get inside you and drag you to the bottom."

Djokovic might also regret posting that quote which seems to support his father's criticism of Dimitrov while forgetting his son invited him.

F1 has been careful to limit the number of personnel attending the first event. In addition to the TV crew that will broadcast the event to fans stuck at home, the FIA has accredited only a handful of journalists and photographers. Team numbers are also reduced and the elaborate motorhomes, such as Red Bull's three-storey energy station, will be replaced by tents.

One figure unlikely to be on the invite list is former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, following his reported comments on CNN criticising F1 chief executive Chase Carey and making reference to claims of racial prejudice by world champion Lewis Hamilton.


The former has launched a campaign called #We RaceAsOne to show that F1is inclusive and diverse, with Carey donating $1million, but Ecclestone inferred that a car salesman (which he once was) would do a better job running F1.

Hamilton has formed a commission to raise black participation in motorsport, which was tested in Nascar recently in Talladega when officials discovered what appeared to a noose in the pit garage of black driver Bubba Wallace, who races for Richard Petty's team.

Petty and Wallace's fellow drivers participated in a parade down pitlane as a show of solidarity for Wallace. Nascar promised to ban for life the person found responsible for placing the noose in the garage, but an FBI investigation revealed from TV footage that the noose had been there for at least six months and was a rope to pull down the garage door.

The evidence seems inconclusive between whether it was a hoax or veiled threat, but shows is important to get the facts right before jumping to conclusions and setting off universal condemnation.

Ecclestone doesn't believe racism exists in F1 because "teams are too busy trying to win races" but then made a rather clumsy statement that "in lots of cases, black people are more racist than white people are".

Hamilton took to social media to express his anguish at Ecclestone's comments.


"Damn, I just don't even know where to start with this one. So sad and disappointing to read these comments.

"Bernie is out of our sport and a different generation, but this is exactly what's wrong -ignorant and uneducated comments which show us how far, as a society, we need to go before real equality can happen."

F1 issued a statement following Ecclestone's CNN interview.

"At a time when unity is needed to tackle racism and inequality, we completely disagree with Bernie Ecclestone's comments that have no place in Formula 1 or society. Mr Ecclestone has played no role in Formula 1 since he left our organisation in 2017, his title Chairman Emeritus, being honorific expired, in January 2020," Liam Parker, the Head of Communications, stated.

At Mercedes, there could be no suggestion Hamilton is treated differently from his Finnish teammate, Valtteri Bottas, who has often been given team orders to make way for Hamilton. During the lockdown, Bottas insists that he has made himself "stronger physically and mentally" and says he has done fun things while at the same time working hard.

Double world champion Mika Hakkinen says his fellow Finn "showed great performances in testing a few months ago, so he's in very good shape and I'm confident that he will be showing incredible results".


"Lewis will continue his great driving, for sure. But when Valtteri has raised his goal higher and he's better than ever, has Lewis done the same, because you need to improve all the time? You need to constantly be better.

"And it's very tiring for the mind, very tiring physically and it requires a lot of discipline. So Valtteri is ready. Is Lewis ready?"

Hakkinen sees the championship as a three-way fight, with Bottas and Max Verstappen challenging Hamilton.

"Max normally will attack. He will take lots of risks. So, the drivers who are out there, having such a long break from driving, are they ready to react to all the moves that Max is going to do?"

Hakkinen says Mercedes and Red Bull were best in testing and while Ferrari will be there also, he doesn't consider it will be on the same level as Red Bull and Mercedes. With a shortened season, he says there will be no margin for error.

"If your car, engine, gearbox, aerodynamics don't work straight away for the first Grand Prix, it's very difficult to come back from there," he added.


Safety measures in place for Austria will hopefully mean there is no repeat of what happened in Australia, but if coronavirus is no longer the enemy, the economic welfare of some teams might be. Williams is up for sale but says it will survive until 2021 at least. McLaren are getting a cash injection of £150m from the Bank of Bahrain to stave off insolvency.

Even Mercedes are looking at staff redundancies.

The situation in Austria for the first of two races will be weird and different for team members, and tense and apprehensive for the drivers. The only certainty is it will still inevitably be a three-horse race.

But, if Bottas, Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc or Sebastian Vettel, or Verstappen, who is on a three-peat, win rather than Hamilton, that won't be seen as a sign of exclusion or inequality, just a welcome changing of the guard for many F1 fans.