Despite the situation regarding the coronavirus outbreak, Formula One tries to avoid any further complication in a bid to go ahead with the 2020 race calendar.
The sport announced earlier that the Chinese Grand Prix has been postponed to an undefined date following the outbreak of the coronavirus that originated in China. On Sunday morning, the organisers of the Bahrain Grand Prix issued a statement in which they declared that the race will be staged behind closed doors.
The rapidly-spreading COVID-19 has cast doubt over further races, putting the inaugural Vietnamese Grand Prix in doubt as well. Formula One’s sporting director Ross Brawn said that the pinnacle of the sport can’t just abandon racing despite the serious situation.
"We are all facing the challenge of the coronavirus. 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. 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."
Ferrari’s former technical director said that the sport’s leaders take the situation seriously, but the impact of the virus on the global economy also needs to be taken into consideration before rushing into a decision that the world may later regret.
"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.”
According to the Brit, one of the key measurements the sport has done is to minimize the number of people who travel to the first rounds of the championship. "For every country we're working with the local health authorities to decide what are the appropriate actions to take. 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,” he said.
The first race in doubt
Since Ross Brawn communicated his thoughts over the situation, the coronavirus has taken a turn for the worse which seems to threaten the season-opening Australian Grand Prix. It was announced on Tuesday that a guest in a nearby hotel has been tested positive for the coronavirus. He has been put under quarantine.
On Wednesday, three Formula 1 team personnel have been taken in to self isolation at Melbourne after showing fever symptoms. The circuit at the Albert Park has a bespoke isolation unit where investigations can be carried out. One of the three members is from McLaren with two other from the Haas team. The Woking-based team confirmed that its team member has been put in to isolation as a precaution.
"We can confirm that one team member has self-isolated in the hotel as a precaution, in line with our policy, after showing symptoms similar to coronavirus. We are awaiting test results and currently do not have a definitive timeframe for these. The team is operating as per our normal schedule,” the statement read.
Latest impacts on motorsport
The news from the Melbourne F1 paddock follow Formula E’s statement from this morning in which the electric series communicated that it has postponed the inaugural Jakarta E-Prix. The race in Indonesia’s capital had been scheduled for June 6. The Jakarta E-Prix is the third race to be officially postponed after the Rome and the Sanya venues have already been delayed.
A statement issued by FE read: "Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and the escalating number of cases in Indonesia and Jakarta, the decision has been taken as the most responsible course of action, to protect the health and safety of championship participants, staff and spectators.”
MotoGP had to implement a further change to its 2020 race calendar yesterday due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. After cancelling the Qatar round and delaying the Thailand race, the Americas Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas has also been postponed until November. The world championship motorcycle race was originally scheduled for April 3-5 and the plan is that the race takes place on November 13-15.