F1 paddock, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

F1 teams changing travel plans for opening races due to Coronavirus

2020 F1 season

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Formula 1 teams have had to make changes to their travel arrangements for the opening races of 2020 due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.

While the fourth round of the championship in China has been postponed, the season-opening races in Australia is set to go ahead on March 15th. F1 is due to visit Bahrain the following weekend and then Vietnam two weeks after that.

However some countries, including those commonly used for stopovers on long-distance flights, have imposed travel restrictions which have led teams to change their arrangements.

“It’s changing all the time from the logistics side,” said AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost. “We have to change all the flights because we are not allowed to go anymore via Singapore or Hong Kong. There’s a lot of work in front of us.”

AlphaTauri’s F1 operation is partly based in Italy, which has seen a surge in Coronavirus cases this week, prompting the team to tell some of its staff members to work from home if they had been near the ‘red zones’ where infections have been detected. The team has also restricted visitors to its motorhome at this week’s test.

Franz Tost, AlphaTauri, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020
Tost: AlphaTauri is taking Coronavirus “seriously”
“This Coronavirus is a really serious story from the AlphaTauri side,” said Tost. “I instructed all the employees to behave in a special manner.

“For example, we reduced the travelling dramatically. Then people who are coming from the red zones in Italy should stay at home. We do not want that they come to the factory. Suppliers are supposed not to visit us in the factory. And we will see now what’s going on regarding your races in Melbourne or in Bahrain.”

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said his team are “very cautious and aware” of the need to minimise their exposure to Coronavirus.

“Certainly it’s a concern, certainly we have to act, making sure that we are acting properly,” he said. “Some of the teams, some of the people have been postponed on the flight, just making sure that we were properly addressing all the concerns.”

[smr2020test]Teams based outside Italy are also having to adapt their travel plans. “There are certainly issues that we’re facing around travel to Melbourne, what happens with Vietnam, travel to Bahrain, et cetera,” said Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams. “So I think it’s a challenge for everybody.”

Yesterday Formula 1 CEO Chase Carey said “all systems are a go” for the opening races of the 2020 calendar to take place but acknowledged the situation remains “fluid”.

“We’re heading to Melbourne, heading to Bahrain, heading to Hanoi,” he said. “Although, to state the obvious, we’ve got to see what evolves in the coming days. We are working actively to see if there are ways to mitigate the China postponement.

“At this point the long and the short of it is we are connecting with in-country experts, our own experts, trying to stay on top of logistical issues on getting to and from long distance places and feel we’ve got as good handle on it as you can.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 8 comments on “F1 teams changing travel plans for opening races due to Coronavirus”

    1. No one is taking this virus seriously enough.

      1. Only an Islander could make such a statement; the rest of us need to be cautious and pragmatic.
        I won’t stop living, meeting people, and cancel all travel only because 0.1% of people in Hubei got a virus. I will heed the WTO advice though..

        1. @coldfly indeed. The way the virus is portraied in media it seems like we’re just days from dying. Sure it’s serious and needs to be taken care of, but this isn’t ebola.

    2. So if Melbourne, Bahrain, and Vietnam are all still ‘fluid’ situations, and it actually sounds serious, could it be that we have to wait until the Dutch GP to open the season?!

      Come to think of it, by that time The Netherlands might be a red-zone too. This virus thing could be a problem for the entire F1 season…

      1. Yes, it will probably be a season long problem, but if you are going to go anywhere there are crowds you might as well go to Melbourne, Australians that have been to infected areas are being quarantined for 14 days thousands of kilometers/miles away. Fly west-about or London-Perth direct and you’ll be as safe as you’ll be at your local shopping center.

    3. It’s only a flu, but the overreaction will probably cancel 80%+ of races this year.

      See you in 2021…

      1. Or races may be run without spectators and teams only do a fly-in fly-out from the track with minimal staff

      2. If the whole world react with travel bans and quarantine risking their econimics, then there must be serious a reason.

    Comments are closed.