Government ‘won’t stand in the way’ of Austrian GP

Michelle Foster
Austrian GP to be announced as season-opener.

Austrian GP to be announced as season-opener.

The Austrian government is open to the Red Bull Ring hosting the Austrian Grand Prix in July, but behind closed doors.

Formula 1 has yet to be pin down a start date for the 2020 season as races continue to be postponed.

While Canada is the latest official postponement, France is expected to join the list after the government extended its ban on mass gatherings.

That means it is over to Austria to start the season on July 5.

The government says it is open to that but that the race must take place behind closed doors to ensure social distancing.

“We don’t want to stand in the way,” Austrian sports minister and vice-chancellor Werner Kogler told Autosport.

“This is a completely different situation than games in a stadium. Several people are affected.

“The minimum distance rules would have to be observed in the same way, of course, but that seems possible.

“I don’t want to hide the fact that I’m in contact with the Styrian governor in this regard. This would be in the existing calendar in July.

“Ultimately, the sports federations must decide that for themselves. And that I was also in contact with Helmut Marko, who for his part plays a corresponding role at Red Bull and has acted as a mediator.

“I told him I would like to honour this, that we will forward all the applicable guidelines to the relevant motorsport associations as a service, so that they can see what is possible or not.”

The biggest stumbling block to the grand prix could be getting teams into the country.

Austria currently has rules stating that anyone entering the country must either enter mandatory quarantine or provide a medical certificate confirming a negative test.

Kogler added: “[Formula 1] is an international convoy in the best sense of the word. That must then be considered within the framework of the existing restrictions on entry and exit.

“I do not want to anticipate the need for an exemption here or there. It is only in principle that this will either be linked to isolation or to health certificates, which I know are now also possible.

“In principle, I have been told by Formula 1 itself that, from its point of view, this could actually work out. Even if one or the other goes into isolation first.

“But I do not want to interfere in that, I just want to know that the existing regulations are being applied. What is important for us is that the distance regulations must apply.

“And at some point, of course, it will also be a question of the people in this convoy, because tens of thousands are less favourable than thousands, I think, because with every number the probability increases that something will happen anyway.”

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