One more month, then MotoGP will start racing again but it will be a completely different world championship from the one we used to know. Not on the track, with the usual show of overtaking and on- or over-the-limit moves, but in the paddock. The coronavirus epidemic has forced Dorna to approve a very restrictive health protocol and the first two rounds at Jerez (on July 19 and 26) will be a sort of general rehearsal.
“We want everyone to be extremely disciplined. There's a lot, too much at stake," Angel Charte, the championship's medical director speaking to El Periodico de Catalunya, did not mince his words.
The paddock must become a sort of island, in the sense that it must be completely isolated from the outside, in order to minimize the risk of contagion. The teams will move independently, without mixing with each other, in order to limit any possibility of spreading the virus.
First of all, each person in the paddock will have to undergo a Covid-19 test before departure and remain at home on the weekend preceding the event. Once we get to Jerez, there will be more tests, "we will check them every minute," promised Charte.
The number of people involved in the Grand Prix (excluding the circuit staff, who will in turn remain isolated) will be around 1200. To keep the situation up to date, an app has been created to be installed on the phone that will function as a database.
"Every day, at 7 am, the managers of the various teams will hand over the data of their team members so that I can examine them and give the go-ahead at the start of the day," explained the medical director.
The risk parameters are 4: body temperature, cough or gastroenteritis symptoms and muscle pain. If there are problems, an alarm bell will sound.
What will happen if there is a positive case in the paddock? “The World Championship will not be interrupted or suspended due to the appearance of one or two cases. They will be isolated and examined, like all members of his team, and then we will decide whether to quarantine him in the hotel or whether he will have to be hospitalized, because we have already made agreements with all the health facilities near the circuits where we will go to race” he replied.
Of course, the normal race weekend routine will also be very different. The teams of the various classes will have to enter the circuit at different times to avoid gatherings, in addition to using all the personal protective equipment that we have become used to in recent months (such as masks). Social distancing must also be guaranteed, even in the garage, with a distance of 2 metres between the various individuals.
Not even the podium will be spared by the safety rules: forget the pretty hostesses next to the riders, and the prizes will also be given in advance. Likewise, the presence of people on the starting-grid and parc fermé will also be limited.
As for media coverage, Dorna has forbidden access to journalists from print media, the web and radio. However, there will be those of the TV who will be able to interview the riders but at a safe distance.
"We can't make any mistakes; the stakes are too high" warned Charte.