Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies believes the permanent wearing of masks will be the biggest challenge for F1 mechanics during Grand Prix weekends this summer.
F1's 2020 season will finally kick off next week in Austria, but the sport has devised a series of mandatory safety and hygiene measures to prevent any COVID-19 contagion in the paddock and within each team's own working environment.
Teams will operate within individual bubbles, segregated from each other, and with sub-bubbles organized within each team, with PPE (personal protective equipment) in heavy use according to specific protocols.
Mekies says masks will inevitably induce a level of discomfort for mechanics and engineers working in the heat and limited space of a team's garage.
"We have been starting to get used to it all of us now, because it’s becoming part of our normal life," the Frenchman told reporters in a video call on Thursday.
"Here at Ferrari it’s compulsory, so we wear it (the mask) at all times in the factory... but it’s one thing to wear it in the office environment, another to wear it when it would be 40 degrees at the racetrack."
Mekies said that Ferrari had issued recommendations to its staff on how to cope with the mask in a pressurized working environment, with the team also scheduling breaks at a regular interval to allow its personnel to step away from its garage space.
"We are trying to put in place a number of measures, in terms of breathing exercises and having some break to those guys, to do breathing exercises and to be keeping in the best possible shape," he added.
Mekies said that COVID-19 testing will be conducted every five days instead of the two initially decided by F1, while teams will function under the general provisions imposed by the FIA and their own internal bubble organization.
"The Formula 1 paddock will be a bubble," he explained. "But inside... you will have an individual bubble for each team with pretty much no or minimum interaction between a bubble or a team and another.
"So you will not see, as we all like and as you used to see, people from a team having a casual chat with people from another team.
"Inside the team bubble, which is inside the F1 bubble, we will also do more bubbles.
"So you will have probably the car 16 (Charles Leclerc) bubble and the car 5 (Sebastian Vettel) bubble and inside them probably engineers and mechanics and so forth."
As a reminder, Austria will kick off the season on July 5 with a double-header at the Red Bull Ring, followed by the Hungarian Grand Prix on July 19.