Plooij about poor communication in Australia: "Everyone went loose in FOM-meeting"

05-04-2020 11:00
by Editorial Team
Interview
Plooij about poor communication in Australia: Everyone went loose in FOM-meeting

The Dutch Ziggo Sport crew travelled with confidence to the Albert Park circuit the week before the Australian Grand Prix. It was clear from the organization that the race would continue and in Melbourne there was not much notice of the coronavirus at first. Jack Plooij was of course also present on the spot and experienced things that he hadn't seen before in his time as a pit reporter in Formula 1. He talks about it in the second part of the interview with GPBlog.

"Of course there was already uncertainty that the Grand Prix would continue, because in China it had already been cancelled, but all the lights were on green," Plooij said to GPBlog. For television companies it is also very important to be sure that the circus will continue. "Ziggo is going to spend a lot of money to go there. The question also existed whether we should do that".

At that moment Plooij smelled trouble

But constantly everything and everyone said not to worry. Everything would go on, but Thursday March 12th suddenly everything changed. "At first you didn't notice anything of the coronavirus there", said Plooij, who immediately smelled trouble when unpacking the stuff in the media centre on Thursday morning. "Papers are always hung up when we can interview drivers, only McLaren's list wasn't there. There was also nothing to be found at their motorhome. Normally McLaren's press officer is always very on time, but she wasn't to be found or reached. So then came that message that someone was infected there."

McLaren retreated, but they were still planning to just race. "That's when everything started. We had a meeting for television stations with the FOM, which is normally on Fridays. We were told that we weren't allowed to stand in the square and that that was at the request of the drivers. We were like, what kind of idiocy is this. We're all apart, we can distance ourselves. The FOM said they were trying to fix that."

Solution FOM does not fall well

Also on Saturday and Sunday during qualifying and race Plooij was not allowed to sit in the square for interviews. But what was that solution then? In the end, Formula One Management decided to appoint four camera crews. "They were going to work with a pop-up hood from Formula 1, but of course all television stations weren't happy with that at all. Sky allowed them to stand there with a Sky Sports England and Sky Sport Italy. Well, then everyone went wild in that FOM meeting. Everyone had something like that, why they did and why we didn't."

To put it mildly, it became very restless and numerous questions were fired at FOM. "The Finns wanted an answer on how to do that with their own language with Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen. There were comments from left and right, in which reproaches such as 'if we did know this, we wouldn't have come' were made". At Ziggo they were also surprised, but did not go along with the unrest. "Olav and I looked at each other and said we can't do much about this."

Red Bull thinks along

Plooij immediately went to Red Bull Racing, because an interview with Max Verstappen has to be arranged of course. "They also immediately said that we could always do an interview with Max in Dutch. So Max went into the square and I stood there with someone from the FOM next to me. Then immediately other people came along as well, but they were sent away".

However, the Grand Prix had still not been cancelled on Thursday. After a short night Mol, Plooij and cameraman arrived back on the track early. "All the fans were still standing in front of the entrance, so we already felt that something was going on. There were a lot of rumors about whether or not to continue at that time, but there was little communication", said Plooij, concluding with revealing words: "The communication really didn't go well. There was actually no communication".  

Next week we will talk to Jack Plooij about how to proceed with the Formula 1 calendar and the consequences for the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort. You can read it next Sunday at 12:00 on GPBlog.com!

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