Masks and remote-control trolleys for F1's new-look podium

(Reuters) - The top three finishers in Sunday’s season-opening Austrian Formula One Grand Prix will have towels and water delivered to them by remote-controlled trolley before they can get their hands on any champagne.

FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 - Austrian Grand Prix - Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Styria, Austria - July 4, 2020 Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas wearing a protective face mask celebrates after qualifying in pole position, as F1 resumes following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Mark Thompson/Pool via REUTERS

They must also wear facemasks before stepping up onto socially-distanced individual rostrums placed in front of their cars on the start-finish line due to strict anti-pandemic measures.

Formula One race director Michael Masi outlined details of the new post-race procedures in a note to teams ahead of the sport’s first championship grand prix to be held entirely without spectators.

The leading three will have to park up next to boards marking the first, second and third positions on the start/finish straight.

They will then step out to be weighed on portable scales positioned next to their cars and conduct the official interviews.

“Once the interviews have been completed a remote-control trolley with water and towel will be delivered to each driver,” the note continued. “No other drinks are permitted in the parc ferme area.”

The rostrum and dais will be placed in front of the cars, instead of the more familiar podium positioned above a crowded pit lane or track crammed with cheering team members and flag-waving fans.

The drivers will then move to their individual podium steps before the national anthems are played and virtual flags displayed.

No dignitaries will be involved in the presentation of trophies.

“The champagne celebrations will then take place,” the note said.

Sunday’s race is the first major global sporting event being held since countries emerged from the COVID-19 lockdown.

The Red Bull Ring is operating under strict health and safety requirements, with drivers and teams subjected to regular testing for COVID-19 and operating in ‘bubbles within bubbles’ to limit any risk of an outbreak of the virus.

The usual sponsors and VIPs are not in attendance and team numbers are limited. Permanently accredited media are not allowed in the paddock or pit lane unless working for broadcasters or Formula One.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis