Formula One’s Chinese Grand Prix has already been postponed as the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic continues to impact the health of people around the world. And while the FIA is still confident that no other events will be affected, the Italian-based F1 teams could begin to suffer.
F1's CEO Chase Carey is insisting that the inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix—the event that fans and sport personnel looked to once the Chinese GP was postponed—is still likely to go ahead, Motorsport.com reports. Here’s more:
“Preparations for the race are going according to the set schedule,” said CEO Le Ngoc Chi. “The F1 race in Hanoi in 2020 will take place as planned. We are of course monitoring the situation closely and will notify customers and media should there be any changes.”
Carey backed up the local promoter, noting that he intends to visit the country next month.
“We do plan to proceed with the race,” he said in a call with Wall Street analysts. “I talked to our Vietnam partners yesterday, and I plan to stop in Hanoi on March 16th on my way back to London from Australia. And all systems are go.”
Still, Carey noted that the coronavirus situation is still “fluid” and ever-changing, which could inevitably result in a later postponement or cancellation if the April 5 event doesn’t end up going forward.
But there’s another problem to consider. The Coronavirus has been spreading in Italy, with 400 cases reported in the country. While F1's Monza event doesn’t take place until later in the year, both Ferrari and Alpha Tauri are located in Italy, along with much of Pirelli’s tire operation. If travel restrictions come into play in Italy, these teams might struggle to go anywhere through the first part of the season.
Here’s more from Autoweek:
Ferrari has closed its museums and the company has restricted access “for employees that are residents or have visited the affected municipalities.” The factory in Maranello is now closed to visitors and there are restrictions on “all non-critical business travel.” The team says that, if necessary, there will be other measures imposed
And then there’s the fact that to travel to the F1 opener at the Australian Grand Prix many teams fly to Melbourne via Bahrain and Dubai—a flight route that has been plagued with extended cancellations.
Formula One is a global operation, and it’s hard to overstate how difficult the start of the season is going to be for members of the paddock. The situation is likely to keep progressing, and we’ll keep you updated on any further motorsport events impacted by COVID-19.