Mar.3 (GMM) The signs are looking brighter that even amid the global coronavirus crisis, Formula 1 will race ahead in 2020.
Earlier, with China already postponed, it looked possible that the other three opening races of the season – Australia, Bahrain and Vietnam – would also not happen.
But Formula One Management has reportedly arranged charter flights with special arrangements for entering Australia and Bahrain, amid rumours that staff for the Italian-based Ferrari, Alpha Tauri and Pirelli would be quarantined.
“Contrary to what has been reported, and despite knowing that the situation is constantly evolving, at the moment our departure for Australia and Bahrain is confirmed,” a Ferrari spokesman told Ansa news agency.
Australian GP boss Andrew Westacott announced: “At this stage there is no indication of further travel bans, nor is there any indication that Formula 1 and the teams will not be arriving as usual.
“Formula 1 has again confirmed overnight that the Australian GP is going ahead and we’re looking forward to welcoming them and the teams to Melbourne.”
Regarding the situation in Bahrain, a spokesperson for the circuit in Sakhir played down reports that F1 staff could also be held up for more than a few hours.
“It is in the context of these initiatives that the Bahrain International Circuit is confident its preparations will result in a successful and safe grand prix later this month,” the spokesperson said.
Vietnam, though, could be a different story – especially with regards to its attitude towards limiting the spread of the contagious virus from Italian visitors.
As it stands, F1’s Italian-based contingent could be quarantined for two weeks, and Vietnam has also ended its program of allowing Italians into the country without a visa.
“All travellers entering Vietnam from China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran must carry out medical declarations and 14 day medical quarantine before entering the country,” read an official statement.
Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto admitted that it is a big problem for F1’s Italian contingent.
“I don’t just see us and Alpha Tauri affected,” he said. “I am also thinking of Alfa Romeo and Haas and of course Pirelli. There could be a situation where four teams cannot race.
“Should a grand prix take place then? Ultimately it’s not my decision.”
However, Haas boss Gunther Steiner said he is confident Formula 1 will handle the situation well.
“We are in good hands with Formula One Management,” he said, adding that he is not worried that other races on the calendar may soon also be in doubt.
“We remain attentive, but we do not have to worry every minute. The situation is constantly changing anyway. We can plan what we want, but tomorrow everything could look different again.”