The restrictions on travel to the UK due to the coronavirus mean that Haas has had to delay the fire-up of its engine until the eve of pre-season testing.
Though it took almost a year, the UK government is finally cracking down on travellers arriving in the country, though it is almost literally a question of bolting the door after the horse bolted.
As from Monday, travellers arriving from any of the 33 countries that comprise the so-called red list must isolate in hotels for 10 days, and unlike last year there are no significant exceptions, no sporting elites.
Until now, on the understanding that they observe certain restrictions, the likes of Sebastian Vettel, Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo have been able to visit their new teams, but things are going to get tougher in the coming weeks.
With seven of the teams based in the UK, for the most part they haven’t had the need to cross borders, so to speak, though the likes of Alpine, which has its chassis division in the UK but the engine division in France, has faced an obvious logistical challenge, as has McLaren which uses Toyota’s windtunnel in Cologne.
Hardest hit however, is Haas, which has had to delay the fire-up of the new Ferrari engine until the eve of pre-season testing in Bahrain, because the Maranello manufacturer’s personnel required for the process would need to quarantine.
“We have issues with Ferrari employees coming to Banbury to start up the engines because they would need to quarantine,” team boss, Guenther Steiner tells the sport’s official website. “We cannot afford that timewise, so we decided to do the fire up in Bahrain. The team will assemble the car in the UK, and then the final fire up will be in Bahrain before test.”
In terms of the chassis, the car is usually assembled at Dallara’s HQ in Italy, but with so much of the 2020 car carried over to this season, the US team opted to build its contender at its Banbury HQ in the UK.
“To our advantage, there is a lot of carryover so it’s not as dramatic as it would have been in any other year,” adds the Italian. “With the engine, there are a lot of the parts are carried over. The gearbox is carried over, too, and parts like the wiring harnesses.
“If this was not the case, it would be a very big risk to do it in Bahrain,” he admits. “But with this situation, the risk is manageable.”
With the team having admitted that there will be little development of the car this season as it is focussing on 2022, rookies Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin face an uphill struggle in the months ahead.