How will the coronavirus affect the start of the Formula 1 season? More and more core markets of Formula One are imposing strict entry regulations, most recently Vietnam and Bahrain.
Sports boss Ross Brawn has now spoken about the latest developments and stresses that a Grand Prix will not take place if a country denies entry to certain teams.
In particular, the Italian teams (Ferrari, AlphaTauri and to some extent Haas) are affected by the entry regulations, as well as tyre supplier Pirelli and brake manufacturer Brembo. Therefore Mattia Binotto and Franz Tost have already expressed concerns.
Now, F1’s Ross Brawn makes it clear to “Reuters” that no Formula 1 race will be held without Italian teams.
“If a team is denied entry to a country, then we cannot have a race. No Formula One World Championship race, anywhere, because that would be unfair.” says Brawn.
Brawn further reiterates the statements of Alpha Tauri team boss Franz Tost, who also spoke of “unfair” conditions. Brawn adds:
“If a team doesn’t go to a race of its own free will, of course, it’s their decision.”
But where entry restrictions are tantamount to a competitive disadvantage for some racing teams, including above all the famous Ferrari team, Liberty Media wants to take countermeasures.
“If a team is prevented from coming to a race because a country decides so, then it is difficult to hold a fair competition,” taking into account Binotto and Co.’s great concern about not being able to race.
Brawn is also reacting to recent developments in the past few days. Yesterday, Vietnam, which plans to host the inaugural Hanoi race on April 5th, imposed a 14-day quarantine on all Italians.
Brawn reveals that Liberty Media is currently negotiating with the Vietnamese health authorities to allow the race to take place after all.
“They want to run the race, but at the same time they need to protect their people. So we’re looking at what solutions we can come up with.”
A possible solution would be to charter flights specifically for the Italian Formula One employees directly from Melbourne to Bahrain, without stopovers and with health checks on arrival. Indeed, Bahrain also issued new guidelines on Tuesday.
Thus, after the China race, which has already been postponed indefinitely, two more races (Bahrain on 22 March and Vietnam on 5 April) are now in the balance. Brawn knows that the situation can change “daily” as the outbreak of Covid-19 still does not seem to be under control.
“It’s difficult to give definitive answers, but we’ll find solutions,” Brawn assures.
According to their promoters, the season opener on March 15th in Australia will go ahead as planned. Brawn also confirmed that the race will be held in Melbourne.
However, he adds: “This is a serious situation, I don’t want to play it down. But we will try to race. We must run the Grand Prix in a responsible manner.”
It’s already clear that the number of people in the paddock will be further reduced and that only as many team members as absolutely necessary should be sent to the track.
TJ13 will attempt to report more on this escalating global situation as more information becomes available.
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