Still green light for F1 as Europe lockdown returns

Still green light for F1 as Europe lockdown returns

LONDON • Formula One teams are confident this season will be completed safely despite countries going into lockdown to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

There are four races remaining – Turkey and two races in Bahrain followed by next month’s finale in Abu Dhabi.

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

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff told reporters the motor sport was prepared to make adjustments to ensure the season reaches a satisfactory conclusion.

“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 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.

“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.”

F1 has raced in Europe since the July season-opener in Austria, with teams taking chartered flights directly to airports near circuits and remaining in a bio-secure “bubble” during race week so as to maintain minimal contact with locals and outsiders.

Entry to the paddock is strictly controlled, while spectators have been barred or greatly reduced in numbers and all staff tested regularly and within 24 hours of arrival. Around 60,000 Covid-19 tests have been carried out so far with only 54 positive results over four months, including two drivers, Racing Point pair Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll.

F1’s strict health and safety protocols mean drivers and staff have been exempt from quarantine measures, and McLaren boss Andreas Seidl believes the rest of the campaign will go on without a hitch.

“I think we’re still feeling quite safe and the health and safety of our people is protected, which is the most important thing,” he said.

“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.”

At least eight races must be staged for a championship to be valid and 13 grands prix have already been held this year.