FIA can ‘perfectly manage’ limited COVID-19 cases in F1
The FIA is confident that F1’s procedures and medical protocol will allow it to control a coronavirus outbreak in the paddock when the season gets underway and prevent an event’s cancellation.
Formula 1 and motorsport’s governing body were forced to call off the opening round of the F1 world championship in Melbourne at the last hour, a day after a single member of the McLaren team had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Unfortunately, the sport has been forced to postpone or cancel an additional nine races, with an early July start in Austria now being projected by Formula 1, with the latter framing the paddock as a “biosphere” and protected environment governed by stringent physical distancing rules and testing procedures.
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Professor Gérard Saillant, the president of the FIA’s medical commission, is confident that the sport will avoid any repeat this summer of the troubles and issues that befell the Australian Grand Prix back in March, even if a small cluster of positive COVID-19 cases erupt in the paddock.
“I think the situation is quite different between Melbourne and now, because the knowledge of the virus is quite different,” Saillant told Sky Sports F1. “It’s possible to prevent and anticipate quite a lot things.
“If we have one positive case, or maybe 10 positive cases, it’s possible to manage perfectly with a special track, a special pathway for the positive cases. Medically speaking, it’s not a problem.”
But Saillant also underscored the necessity to impose a threshold beyond which drastic actions would be taken to avoid a barrage of public criticism of the sport.
“In terms of sporting and media consequence, it’s quite different,” he said.
“We have to try and anticipate that, to know where is the right line beyond which it’s impossible to continue. But I think it’s not a problem for us now.”
Formula 1’s 2020 season is set to launch at the Red Bull Ring in Austria on July 5, with a second race scheduled a week later at the Spielberg track.
However, it’s currently uncertain where F1 races on after its opening rounds as quarantine measures in the UK would prevent Silverstone from holding its own double-header.
In the event of a cancellation or postponement of the British Grand Prix, F1’s contingency plans include holding a race at Hockenheim, in which case teams and personnel would remain on the continent after Austria.
Regardless of the various scenarios, a string of F1 races in Europe will first and foremost depend on each country’s safety regulations and sanitary measures.
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