Lando Norris of McLaren felt the absence of fans more than most as the Briton celebrated his first Formula One podium finish behind empty grandstands at Austria’s Red Bull Ring last Sunday.
The novel coronavirus pandemic had forced the sport of racing to go behind closed doors for the first time in order to get the much-delayed season started.
The 20-year-old said that they were all be happy to be there racing and procedured that were put in place were pretty bulletproof, but it’s a bit different for himself.
Norris, third behind Mercedes’ race winner Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc added that those guys were used to being on the podium quite a bit but for him it’s his first time. And he thought that something that made it so special was always having the crowds there, celebrating there with racers, whether they were always their fans or not. It just made up the atmosphere so much and added a lot of excitement.
In recent years, the stands at Red Bull’s home circuit have been filled with thousands of orange-shirted Dutch fans making the trip in order to cheer on their idol Max Verstappen, the winner in 2018 and 2019.
The near fields, with cows grazing in them now, are normally campsites for racing fans, reverberating with music along with the smoke of barbecues.
Bottas said that he knew there were many loyal fans to him watching at home and the most important people to him, his family, were watching, supporting, and living in the moment with him. However, it’s better to be racing like that than not racing at all.
Leclerc, who grew up watching Ferraris race around Monaco, said that it had been a strange weekend and one that is set to go on with Formula One‘s European races all likely to be without fans.