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Pierre Gasly to race with number 10 for F1 career

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Scuderia Toro Rosso has confirmed new driver Pierre Gasly will race with car number 10 for his Formula 1 career, as the Frenchman makes his debut this weekend in place of Daniil Kvyat.

Gasly will be the second driver to use No. 10 since F1’s move to a permanent driver numbering system ahead of the 2014 season, with Kamui Kobayashi having been the first at Caterham. But a driver only has the rights to the number for a two-year period afterwards, then it becomes available again.

The Frenchman will race at least at Malaysia this weekend and then in Japan the following weekend, and the latter event should be good for him considering he’s raced in Japan all season in Super Formula. He’s raced at both the Sepang and Suzuka circuits previously, a rarity for most F1 debutantes.

“I am not worried, I am excited about making my debut in Sepang this weekend,” Gasly said. “I have worked hard to prepare for this and to get to F1. I am very happy to have this opportunity. I know it will be different to anything I’ve done before and the other drivers have been racing all season, so I will have a lot of things to get used to and learn about.

“It’s a super challenge and I can’t wait for it to start. I have raced in Sepang. It was last year, when I took pole position for the GP2 race, so clearly it’s a track I like. It is very tough with the high level of humidity but I am well prepared physically.”

As for Suzuka? “As I am racing in Japan this year, I first came to Suzuka this winter, for some Super Formula series testing. It wasn’t much, just two half days. Then I had the first round of the season here. It’s a really impressive circuit, with some incredible high speed parts and the fantastic first sector.

“It is now one of my favorite tracks, even though it also has a sad place in my heart because of what happened to Jules (Bianchi) in 2014. I have enjoyed my time in Japan. In fact, I find myself liking it more and more, especially because of their culture and the way the people are, so polite and how they treat one another. It’s nice and yet so different to anything I have experienced before. I have enjoyed discovering it and now I look forward to my F1 race weekend there.”

F1 aggressive on COVID-19 testing, social distancing enforcement

F1 COVID-19 testing
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With big hugs and wide smiles, McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown exuberantly celebrated the first podium finish of Lando Norris’ Formula One career. His exuberance earned a warning from Formula One and FIA officials during the era of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and subsequent F1 testing.

“Obviously I got excited with Lando on the podium and embraced him after the race,” Brown said with a laugh during a news conference Friday. “You get caught up in the emotion and excitement of the event, but it was suggested maybe I don’t do that again if we get a podium anytime soon.”

MASK WARNING: NASCAR tells teams to avoid ‘complacency’

Now in its second race weekend of 2020, F1 has taken an aggressive approach to maintain a paddock free of COVID-19. Before teams hit the track last week for the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix, F1 and FIA officials said more than 4,000 tests were conducted over a week with no positive tests.

In order to enter the track, any F1 personnel (which includes drivers and team members) must have a negative COVID-19 test. Private testing was used ahead of those traveling to Austria. After entering the track, personnel are tested every five days with private medical teams at events along with extra screening.

The results of F1 COVID-19 testing also will be made public every seven days. More than 8,000 tests were conducted through Saturday.

It’s a much different tack from NASCAR and IndyCar, neither of which is conducting COVID-19 testing (and with NASCAR recently distributing that warned teams of “complacency with protocols).

Though Brown, who also oversees Arrow McLaren SP Motorsports in IndyCar, demurred when asked whether the U.S.-based series should be taking a cue, he praised F1 COVID-19 testing for being a best-in-class example.

“I don’t know exactly what every other racing series is doing, so it would be difficult for me to say they’re doing it right or wrong,” Brown said from Austria. “All I can really do is speak to what Formula One is doing, and they’re doing an unbelievable job with 5,000 tests, and people flying in from different parts of the world. The minute that someone — and there’s not been many instances – has taken a mask off, you’re getting a letter or a phone call saying put your mask back on.

“I think all sports should be looking at all sports and seeing who’s doing what and what are our best practices, but I’ve got nothing but great things to say about how the FIA and Formula One and the countries they’re racing in are executing because it feels extremely safe here.”

Brown said it’s unlikely the European-based circuit will do F1 COVID-19 testing at races in the United States, Brazil, Mexico and Canada because the events likely will be scrubbed. Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, was scheduled to play host to F1 on the Oct. 23-25 race weekend but just canceled its MotoGP race.

“We’d very much like to race at all those circuits,” Brown said. “Unfortunately, my opinion is it’s probably unlikely we’ll race at any of those venues this year. That’s obviously due to the COVID situation. … Let’s see what happens, but certainly it seems like the spikes in Texas are pretty severe and Brazil and Mexico and Canada a little less so. But if we miss them this year, we certainly look forward to going back to those venues next year.”