During the winter tests of Formula 1 in Barcelona, it is mainly about lap times, new wings and types of tires, but the corona virus is also starting to become an increasingly important theme within the royal class.
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc can accept if more races have to be postponed in addition to the Chinese Grand Prix. "The safety of everyone is of course now paramount. That goes for the competition or whatever," said Monegask firmly on Wednesday at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
Formula 1 started there on Wednesday in the last three test days in preparation for the new season, which is due to start in Australia on March 15. The only question is what the calendar will look like. The GP in Shanghai was already postponed on February 12, but it is not inconceivable that more races have to be postponed or canceled due to the COVID-19 virus.
The FIA is keeping a close eye on the spread of the virus, the French organization behind the world championship announced. "We evaluate the upcoming races on the calendar and, if necessary, take measures to protect the motorsport community and the wider public."
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Ferrari had to leave engineers at home
Ferrari noticed the effects of the corona virus for the first time this week. Mechanics from regions with infections in northern Italy did not travel to Barcelona. "It is a concern that we must handle well," said team boss Mattia Binotto. "It's not a big drama, we have to manage that well. We are constantly discussing this with the FIA."
Williams team boss Claire Williams sees the situation change day by day. That makes the travel plans for her racing stable, but also those of all people who work in the Formula 1, more difficult.
"We work in a global sport that travels far", the British stressed. "We are currently looking at the advice we receive from the relevant authorities. That really changes every day. So we are very busy with it."
Williams has problems with the travel plans to the season opener in Melbourne, but traveling to the second race in Bahrain can also be difficult. "And then we have to see what will happen with the third race in Vietnam. It is a big challenge for everyone."
Calendar up to and including GP Netherlands
- Australia (Melbourne) - March 15
- Bahrain (Sakhir) - March 22
- Vietnam (Hanoi) - April 5
- The Netherlands (Zandvoort) - 3 May
Singapore and Dubai major airports
The travel plans are mainly hampered by restrictions on flying over Singapore and Dubai. These are two airports that are used by many Formula 1 personnel, and also two airports from which Bahrain does not wish to receive flights for the time being.
Vietnam does not want to allow flights from contaminated areas, which is not only a potential problem for Ferrari, but also for Italy-based AlphaTauri (formerly Toro Rosso) and tire supplier Pirelli. For the time being, the race will continue in Vietnam.
Leclerc trusts that the right choices are made. "Whether it is safe to drive in a country or not I leave it to the FIA and the teams. They will probably still consult with each other to find a solution", the 22-year-old driver decided. "And they have to judge whether it is wise or not to go to those countries."
The last two test days in Barcelona are held on Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
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