Formula 1 insists it is not taking any ‘unnecessary risks’ with its decision to push on with the new season, as it makes clear it cannot simply abandon everything because of the coronavirus threat.
The 2020 campaign is due to start in Australia next weekend despite recent uncertainty about the fate of the opening events over the virus outbreak.
With the sport’s chiefs clear that they are all systems go for the flyaways in Melbourne, Bahrain and Vietnam, F1’s managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn says it is in contact with health authorities in all countries to make sure the sport is doing all it can to minimise the potential for trouble.
“It is challenging at the moment, and we are all facing the challenge of the coronavirus,” said Brawn, speaking at a launch event for new F1 partner 188Bet.
“I think the key thing is to try and maintain the sport in the safest possible way. We can’t take unnecessary risks, but we can’t just shut down completely.
“I mean if the whole economy shut down completely, that would have a much more serious impact than the coronavirus. But the coronavirus is a very serious threat, so we have to take the necessary reactions.”
Brawn said that F1 was constantly evaluating what precautions needed to be taken, and was listening to advice from individual governments.
“For every country we’re working with the local health authorities to decide what is the appropriate actions to take,” he said. “All the teams for instance are minimising the amount of staff that travel. So we’re taking every sensible precaution we can, and we have to follow the advice of the health authority.
“At the moment, the first three races are going ahead. But this is a situation that is changing day by day. So we have to react and we have to respond accordingly.”
Australia this week imposed tougher checks on Italians arriving there, while Bahrain has put in place special procedures for F1 personnel to avoid travel bans that it has introduced.
Brawn said that he had faith F1 was working with the best people to ensure that the grand prix circus could continue travelling despite all the logistical headaches.
“There’s tonnes of equipment moving around,” he said. “When we postponed the Chinese Grand Prix, for instance, the reason we had to make the decision when we did is that the equipment was about to set off to arrive in China and it couldn’t be stranded on high seas.
“So we had to make that decision then to postpone that race. But we’ve got a great team. And they’ve been doing this for a very long time.
“They know how to approach it. They know all the wrinkles and all the challenges, and everyone’s been responding fantastically well, to try and make sure we can have all races.”
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