Motor racing: Formula One confident of completing season despite lockdowns

Motor racing: Formula One confident of completing season despite lockdowns

LONDON (REUTERS) – Formula One teams are confident the 2020 season will be completed safely despite countries going into lockdown to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

There are five of 17 races remaining – this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola in northern Italy, then Turkey and two races in Bahrain followed by a finale in Abu Dhabi.

Seven of the teams are based in England, where the government announced a new lockdown on Saturday (Oct 31) until December but exemptions have previously been granted for F1 and are expected to continue.

Toto Wolff, principal of champions Mercedes who are based in Brackley near Silverstone, told reporters the sport was prepared.

“I think the lockdowns that we see in Europe now are very different to the lockdowns in spring,” he said.

“It will impact our lives, that’s for sure, and it will heavily impact some industries. But I think we can find a way of working around it.

“You never know whether we can do all the races that are being left because clearly the health question comes first,” added the Austrian.

“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 it’s too much of a risk then obviously we can’t race there.”

Formula One has raced in Europe since the July season-opener in Austria, with teams flying charters directly to airports near circuits and remaining in protective bubbles with minimal contact with locals.

Paddock entry is strictly controlled, spectators barred or greatly reduced in numbers and all staff regularly tested and within 24 hours of arrival.

Formula One has conducted 60,000 tests so far with only 54 positive results over four months.

Business travel and cross-border transport of freight have continued and Formula One has secured exemptions from quarantine thanks to its strict protocols.

“I think we’re still feeling quite safe and I the health and safety for our people is protected, which is the most important thing,” said McLaren principal Andreas Seidl.

“The situation is quite dynamic at the moment, there’s no change in any of the plans, we still plan to go ahead with all the races coming.”