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.
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.
“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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