The Covid-19 virus has caused massive upheaval in the F1 world; there are simply no winners.
Race organisers can’t sell tickets to the public and as such, they can’t pay F1 a race fee. TV broadcasters have missed out on content so their advertisers have reduced payments so F1 receives less. With less incoming revenue, teams aren’t getting what they’d banked on and in turn, their drivers and team members receive less.
And then there are the other casualties, like F1 Experiences who would normally be selling thousands of packages/week, packages worth upwards of US$4,000. That income has ground to a halt.
There’d be about half the number of people normally in the F1 paddock now. Missing out are sponsors, corporate guests and celebrities. There are fewer and fewer journalists, TV crew, technicians and team members.
It’s fair to say that F1 has done a great job to get races happening but there are huge concessions being made. On the photography front, the photos of drivers wearing masks are hardly inspiring. While they were perhaps interesting on day one, most people have grown tired of only being able to see someone’s eyes.Normally there’d be 20 – 30 photographers around the paddock shooting the goings-on. Under Covid rules, each team was allowed one photographer, but that photographer had to be a part of the team, i.e. they had to wear the same team clothing, not move outside the paddock and when in the paddock, they could only stay around the team garage and hospitality suite. This meant the opportunity to shoot all of the drivers moving about the paddock was wiped out. There were another 10 or so shooters who weren’t allowed in the paddock but could work from the media centre
and move around the track. In total, only 20 or so were invited to attend, and initially, F1 was not going to permit any. Being a freelancer, I was not one of them, but given the severe restrictions placed on those invited, I doubt I would have been able to shoot the sort of shots that do well on my Instagram page and website; the shots you love.
With my spare time though, I decided to produce an array of books featuring my favourite images of drivers and paddock people. These are quality photo books, delivered to most countries – you can order one or more here
So what will happen over the rest of the year? Well, we have another 5 races confirmed starting with Hungary today. But it’s hard to see full stadiums being allowed any time soon. Certainly the prospect of races being held in the US, Brazil or Mexico seem remote given the out of control Covid situation there. It’s my guess that any further races will take place in Europe and behind closed doors.
There’s no guarantee that things will be back to normal next year either. The Australian GP will not be kicking off the 2021 season as international air travel to and from Australia is unlikely to return to anything like normal until July 2021 unless there’s a vaccine out prior to then.
The real challenge is the dynamic nature of the virus. Many circuits and organisers need weeks of advance planning to prepare for a race and if the virus takes off again, races could be shut down like the Australian GP was in March this year. And that leaves a big loss on someone’s books.
We are in largely unchartered waters but we live in hope.