Grands Prix have felt more like Formula Renault events than Formula 1 thanks to a lack of fans this year, reckons McLaren’s Lando Norris.
No spectators have been allowed in to F1 races held so far this year in a bid to minimise the risks to public health amid the coronavirus pandemic.
It means that only staff essential to the running of the grand prix are present, with around 2000 people at each of the first three events held so far.
Norris says that he has missed having fans there, and thinks their absence will hit him especially hard at this weekend’s British Grand Prix.
“I’ve missed them a lot, I’ve missed the whole atmosphere from them,” he said, when asked by Autosport about what it has been like to run in front of empty grandstands.
“You know, it feels a lot more like a race in Formula Renault where you go and there’s not that many fans. Or like, sometimes Formula Three: you go to the race tracks and there just aren’t many fans.
“And it’s almost a bit like karting in some ways, where you just go there to race rather than to put on a great show for anyone. So it is weird.
‘And it’s something that every driver, I’m sure even the engineers and mechanics, they miss the atmosphere from it all and seeing the emotion from the fans.”
Norris says that he thinks the situation will be especially noticeable at Silverstone over the next two weeks, as he reckoned the absence of fans will rob it of a ‘home race’ feel.
“It makes it even worse knowing that I’ve got two races at my home track where it would have been amazing to have all the fans there,” he said.
“After last year, it was such an awesome experience to go there for my first home race.
“To go up to the campsites and go on the fan stage in front of the thousands and thousands of people. It was awesome.
“So it’s really something I’m going to miss. And in some ways, they’re the people that make it a home race.
“Otherwise in a lot of ways it’s just another race on the calendar.
“Yes it is your home track. But the reason we call it and we’re so excited about the home race is because of the fans, not because it’s just a track where you can travel back home and sleep in your own bed in the evening.
“So it’s going to feel weird and it has felt weird. And I look forward to when we get the opportunity to welcome the fans back.”