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FIA guidance on COVID-19 suggests dropping support categories

by Ida Wood

Photo: Gruppe C Photography/ADAC

The FIA has suggested decreasing the number of support series at race meetings as part of its guidance issued for motorsport’s return to action as COVID-19 lockdown measures are eased.

To support event organisers and national authorities, the FIA has released the “Return to Motorsport” document, and one of the recommended procedures is the reduction of support series in race meetings.

Junior single-seater championships act as support series for other categories in the majority of cases, from FIA Formula 2 and Formula 3 on the Formula 1 support bill, to Formula 4 series that race on the undercard of national GT or touring car events.

“The decision to operate so called ‘support categories’ at a motor sport mass gathering event requires significant consideration in light of the COVID-19 pandemic,” read the document.

“Aside from the obvious implications of numbers of attendees, these categories typically require additional and separate paddock areas, all of which require the same detail of planning, preparation and provision for virus transmission mitigation measures.

“The decision to include support categories on the sporting schedule can only be taken by the event organiser and promoter.

“However, in light of the likely absence of spectators on-site and the significant additional resources required to prepare the event in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the reduction of support categories is suggested as a useful means to reduce the size of the event and hence mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission.”

Circuits and event organisers usually try to fill race meeting schedules with as many series as possible due to the additional income gained from extra entry fees.

A reduction in support categories, especially for meetings that need greater infrastructure for headline series like Formula 1 or the World Endurance Championship, could make these events loss-making and circuits may therefore be unwilling to host them at all.

Formula Scout understands that Hockenheim’s potential return to the F1 calendar this year could depend on there being a full support programme in order to cover the circuit’s hosting fees.