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Behind the scenes of the closed Hungarian GP

2020. June 04. 20:00

Formula 1 World Championship starts with 8 European races, 35th Formula 1 Aramco Magyar Nagydíj is scheduled for 17-19 July. An online press conference was held on the organisational background of the Hungarian race to take place slightly more than a month and the details of the agreement on Thursday in the Ministry for Innovation and Technology.

László Palkovics dr, Minister for Innovation and Technology, Zsolt Gyulay, CEO of Hungaroring Sport Zrt., Prof Béla Merkely, rector of Semmelweis University and Zoltán Szujó, advisor to the Ministry discussed informally alongside the journalists’ questions.

It turned out among others that they were talking on several dates regarding the Hungarian GP, moreover, there was an option of organizing two races in Hungary, but finally Liberty rejected it, because they wanted to go to as many places as they can.

Main point for Hungaroring was to keep Magyar Nagydíj in the calendar in any case, because with the cancellation of the legendary Monaco GP, the Hungarian race is presently the second in the list (behind Monza) of races included in the F1 calendar without any break.

 

László Palkovics dr said: ‘With regard to the pandemic situation several international events had to be cancelled, but we did not want to take a risk with the F1 race in Hungary, so we were open for all option while liaising. We changed many emails with Chase Carey, chief executive of Liberty Media, moreover, we gave him some tips how to make the closed event more exciting. They have taken some of them. The option for organizing two races also arisen during the conversation, but fortunately pandemic situation improved in the other countries as well, and the rights holder wanted to the field to as many places as possible. We assured Mr Carey that we would give all our help for the F1 family when arriving to our country in safe either on road or by plane. We also gave some proposals regarding the viewers’ experience, because 5G network is able to provide the fans with real-time information, and we can present much more enjoyment for them. It might be a bit rusty this year, but mostly from users’ side.’

 

For a journalist’s question Minister said that they saved some time for renewing the Hungaroring, because the current contract was extended by a year until 2027, but that did not mean the work could be prolonged. He also added that since we would organize a Hungarian MotoGP race in 2023 at the new track to be built in the triangle, Debrecen, Miskolc, Nyíregyháza, provided that a successful test race was organized at the beginning of that year, building works must have started immediately there. The company that will run the project is being founded, and works will start within some days.

 

Zsolt Gyulay received many questions regarding the financial background of organizing a closed event, and CEO of the Hungaroring Sport Zrt. said: ‘We have been liaising with Liberty Media how to compensate the missing profit, because organisational cost is not lower in case of a closed event, indeed… We did our best during the discussions to get a good agreement both for the country and the sport even in these challenging times. We cannot say exact numbers, but rights fee is fragment of the one we pay in case of an open event. Furthermore, we have achieved an extension in our contract, so now it is valid until 2027 instead of 2026. Yearly increase of the rights fee also has been reduced, so we spared several billions of HUF for the state. All in all, I can say that we were wise and we spared a lot.’

 

As of closed event issue Gyulay said: ‘During the discussion there came a point, when we had to decide and declare, even in an ever changing situation, that we would hold a fan-less event, because we had to start organizing the race.’

It will be a special race from several point of view, because the teams will not bring their motorhome and more offices are needed due to social distancing, so a real container city will be built at the Hungaroring, and because of separating they will use as many fences as when normally 100 thousands people coming to the circuit.

 

It was also said that although both Liberty and Hungaroring limited the number of participants at the closed event (the teams include 80 instead of 130 people and TV personnel was also cut), it would be an event involving a very large number of people, so safety is of high priority. Prof. Béla Merkely and his team will handle it during the Hungarian GP as requested by László Palkovics, so it will be in safe hands.

The teams also committed to cooperate, everyone will be accommodated separately in the hotel, and they can move only between the hotel and the circuit. Nevertheless, they will probably be tested in every two days, such as the Hungarian organization staff.

 

Prof. Béla Merkely has already completed an assignment even bigger than this, just think about that they tested 10.600 selected people in very different conditions countrywide in the past few weeks.

‘As a result of the countrywide testing we are the only one in the calendar, which has evident data about how low the rate of contagion in the country. So if I were the head of F1, I would have organized three races in Hungary. Prof Merkely smiled and assured everyone that his team was ready. ‘If needed, we can make tests every day, but they are enough in every two days. We will have the opportunity to isolate anyone in case of positive result, and to make the necessary steps. Certainly, we will need a medical room or container at the Hungaroring, and I would like to check how the Austrian organizers arrange it, who knows, if I can overbid it. We must require everyone to wear face cover, even the high prestigious athletes, because virus can hit them without noticing it, however, we can easily outbreak a pandemic, so we must proceed with the utmost caution.’






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