That 2020 Season of Marshalling
Earlier this year I was bursting with the enthusiasm of another marshalling season starting and coming off the back of a great 2019, I proclaimed that 2020 was going to be the 'Year of the Marshal'.
Yeah, I actually said those words that you can read here.
I mentioned that there would be a new website, that happened, new podcasts, that sort of happened and new blogs... err there was a small problem with this bit.
So, with a year halted by the Coronavirus pandemic, I asked myself was 2020 really the year of the marshal?
Let's make this clear right now, I know the season only last six months at the most, but the half-year of the marshal, or six months of the marshal doesn't have the same ring to it.
I would also like to reach out to those marshals who have had to sit at home for the half-season because they have either been shielding, uncomfortable with marshalling during the on-going pandemic or those that unfortunately didn't get picked. My heart honestly goes out to you, but I firmly believe that when lockdowns are lifted and we head towards a new normal. You'll be back out there and you will be at every event you can think of.
When it was announced that motorsport would resume in July in the UK, there were things we were always going to be doing differently. The way we signed-on, how we dealt with incidents, how many of us there were on post and in total, wearing masks pretty much all the time and more. As a single part of motorsport went - we had huge changes. Sure fans couldn't get to some race tracks but they could still watch at home they could still be fans, and whilst drivers had different pre-race rituals once they were in the car with their helmet on everything was the same.
For marshals, it was different. There were experiments on how we could deal with incidents and still social distance, how we could get enough numbers on a post and be safe but keep the infection rate to a minimum and of course international events such as WEC and F1, how would that cope with a reduced amount of marshals due to travel restrictions?
A lot changed but our responsibilities remained the same and our standards along with it.
I think we need to be honest, at first it took us a while to get it spot on, but when we got it to work the difference was unnoticeable. I have two good examples of how marshals still performed in the way that we've always been known to.
The Belgian Grand Prix, a race that i've marshalled in the last two years and it's a great race but they were of course without some international marshals. However, this didn't stop them. Infact, if you watch the highlights and when Antionio Giovinazzi and George Russell collide, the track was covered in debris and you have two stricken vehicles.
The safety car was called straight away and some were even calling for a red flag to allow the circuit to be cleaned. Instead a few laps past three or four at most (though I could be corrected) and the circuit was clear, vehicles moved and racing could continue.
I belive it only took one lap for a path to be cleared that allowed cars to pass safely.
Le Mans 24 Hours
A big event, one that attracts teams, fans and even marshals from all over the world. A race that was affected by the travel restrictions, just by looking at the pictures on some marshalling posts you could tell the numbers were down.
Yet, in true Le Mans fashion everyone went about their business and made the race run slick. Teams will have worked slightly differently, but the fact the race went ahead is testiment to those that were there working to make it happen.
I could have gone on with a few more exampls of elite racing right down to club meetings of how marshals made it happen. However, the fact that any racing at all happened in 2020 is a credit to everyone who is connected with the sport.
I'm going to say is 2020 is the year of the marshal.