F1 can keep racing despite new Covid-19 lockdowns

by Oct 31, 20200 comments

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff is confident Formula 1 will be able to continue holding races despite a rising number of Europe countries announcing new lockdowns to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

France, Germany and Belgium have already announced lockdowns and Britain, where all bar two F1 teams are at least partly based, is expected to do the same imminently.

However Wolff believes it will not be necessary for Formula 1 teams to suspend their operations as they did during the first wave of lockdowns earlier this year.

“I think the lockdowns that we see in Europe now are very different to the lockdowns in spring,” he said. “Back in spring it was a complete shutdown of any activity: Going to work, being on the street.

“I think this time, at least [from] what we can see from France and Germany, access to pubs, restaurants and leisure places has been stopped or has been curfewed. Going to work is still permitted for the ones that need to go to work. It will impact our lives, that’s for sure. It will heavily impact some industries. But I think we can find a way of working around it.”

There are four races remaining in the 2020 F1 season following this weekend’s Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix. The series is due to visit Turkey in mid-November, then hold a triple-header of events in the Middle East with two races in Bahrain and the season finale in the United Arab Emirates.

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Wolff admitted it will be up to the health authorities in those countries to decide whether those races can go ahead, but said F1 has an excellent record of minimising the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

“You never know whether we can do all the races that are being left, because clearly the health question comes first. It’s in the hands of the health authorities in the countries that we are visiting to accept motor racing and host us.

“If these guys decide that it’s too much of a risk, then obviously we can’t race there. And this is how the decision-making process arose.

“I believe that Formula 1 has done really a great job – and I mean the FIA, FOM and the teams – in running a championship contrary to many other team championships that are either run in a much reduced was or totally confined in some area.

“We’ve been travelling from country to country, we’ve kept in our bubbles, we’ve had very few positive Covid cases and that’s why I don’t think we really are providing a risk in a country that we are visiting because we are probably the safest group of people out there.

“But who am I to judge? Somebody who knows and understands much more about the medical situation will have an input and will have a say and the FIA and FOM and we just have to take their guidance.”

Yesterday the FIA announced that over the preceding week 4,281 Covid-19 tests of personnel associated with F1 had been conducted, of which nine had tested positive.

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