Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

“Unfair” to start F1 season if Coronavirus stops some teams racing – Tost

2020 F1 season

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It would be “unfair” to start the 2020 F1 season if some teams are unable to attend the first race as a result of the Coronavirus, says AlphaTauri’s Franz Tost.

Practice for the first race of the new season is due to begin in two weeks’ time at the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne, Australia. However several countries have imposed travel restrictions due to the spread of the Coronavirus worldwide.

Italy is among the countries which have been most significantly affected by the virus. AlphaTauri’s F1 operation is based there, as are Ferrari, Haas chassis builder Dallara and F1 tyre supplier Pirelli.

Australia has advised its citizens to “exercise a high degree of caution” when visiting northern Italy, and some countries have blocked travellers who have visited the country in recent weeks. Tost said his team’s staff are due to begin flying out “at the end of next week” but at present he does not expect any disruption to the race.

“We go to Australia,” he said. “It’s a nice country. We want to have a grand prix. Up to now. I don’t expect that there will come up any problems.”

However the fast-changing situation remains hard to predict, he admitted. “Everything is changing hourly and this makes it difficult.”

Albert Park, 2019
F1 staff will start heading to Melbourne next week
Formula 2 driver Christian Lundgaard is unable to attend this week’s pre-season test in Bahrain due to a Coronavirus quarantine. Some team members have also had difficulty getting into the country.

If similar problems prevent some F1 teams competing in Australia they will be at a considerable disadvantage, said Tost.

“If teams can’t run for whatever reason – I have not thought about this, also not I’m not a decision maker – then I think it would be unfair to start the season because this is a big disadvantage, whoever it is.

“Regarding Bahrain, if I’m informed right, people coming from Italy had a medical check and if they are not sick, if they don’t have the Coronavirus, then they can, of course, work in there. And I expect something similar with Formula 1.”

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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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  • 13 comments on ““Unfair” to start F1 season if Coronavirus stops some teams racing – Tost”

    1. Indeed unfair it would be, especially since it could subsequently have an impact on the title-fights, if, for example, Ferrari couldn’t compete in these early-races, but Mercedes and RBR still could.

      1. I think there is more chance that Ferrari will attend, but fail to show any fight!

    2. Best solution must be non championship races

      1. Very good idea, @theessence.

        Being F1, the participating teams will ask for the PUs to be outside the specified limits. Which is only fair.
        Also being F1, the non-participating teams will definitely complain about the added data gathering that the participating teams benefit from.

        Maybe non-championship races for those permitted to reach a venue, and let affected teams do an equivalent amount of running? :)

      2. how does that work though? Say Mercedes start the season of great winning the first 5 races getting no points. While Ferrari are allowed to stay in their factory working on their car and say they turn up at the 5th race and now have the fastest car.

        1. Ferrari still gets to do exactly that, but in fact with LESS actual testing. MB would be on track and testing and Ferrari would not have any running in races. All the testing on your own is fine but you don’t race on your own

      3. That would be a good option for both fans and teams.

    3. One option would be to only count x results for the season as was done in the past when reliability was so bad.

      There is no way they should cancel races if a significant number of entrants are available.

      1. Being F1, they’ll more likely do something stupid instead like making a hastily shoe-horned 2 day Chinese GP count double!

    4. Doesn’t there have to be a minimum numbers of cars for a race to be valid? Isn’t it 16? So basically, if 3 teams are not allowed to complete then the race can’t go ahead anyway (at least officially). The non-championship race idea of Heminway @theessence might be a way around that problem.

    5. I disagree, it isn’t unfair, it’s unfortunate, there is a difference. The race is being held when it’s being held, it’s nobody’s fault if world events somehow prevent your team from competing, that’s unfortunate for you, but it’s not like anyone is setting out to handicap you.

      When the other teams have gone to the great expense and effort to attend a GP and are prepared to race, forcing them to surrender that opportunity when they are in order and ready to go would be unfair.

      Where do we draw the line?
      In 2005 Michelin brought tyres that weren’t fit for the Indianapolis GP, the teams weren’t to blame for that, F1 went on without them.
      A few years back Marussia/Manor/Whatever wasn’t ready to race at the start of the season, they could only field one car at a time, F1 didn’t wait for them.
      When Caterham and Marussia couldn’t attend two GP’s in 2014 F1 didn’t wait for them.
      When Williams couldn’t attend preseason testing until they were days late, F1 didn’t wait for them.

      I hope all this is just academic, that none of this comes to pass and every team is able to attend and race, but holding everyone else up just because events have negatively affected you is not fair for those that haven’t suffered those problems, that have expanded the money and time, and are ready to go.

    6. It would be much easier to plan if there wasn’t so much lying about it all.

    7. Not unfair, unfortunate, tough luck.

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