As countries such as Bahrain and Vietnam introduce travel bans, Formula 1 sporting boss Ross Brawn has made it clear that F1 won’t hold championship races unless all 10 teams are present.
Earlier this week both Bahrain announced travel restrictions aimed at curtail the coronavirus outbreak.
The country, which plays host to round two of the championship, stated that it is “temporarily preventing entry to all foreign nationals who have visited Italy, Iraq, China, Hong Kong, Iran, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea 14 days prior to their arrival in Bahrain.”
Added to that Vietnam says “all travellers entering Vietnam from China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran must carry out medical declarations and 14-day medical quarantine before entering the country.”
That not only affects Ferrari and AlphaTauri but also Pirelli.
Brawn has made it clear that if either Ferrari or AlphaTauri, or in fact any team, is not permitted entry, the F1 grand prix will not be declared a “World Championship” event.
“If a team is prevented from entering a country, we can’t have a race,” he told Reuters. “Not a Formula 1 World Championship race, anyway, because that would be unfair.
“Obviously if a team makes its own choice not to go to a race, that’s their decision.
“But where a team is prevented from going to a race because of a decision of the country then it’s difficult to have a fair competition.”
The coronavirus outbreak has led to the cancellation of the Chinese GP while MotoGP has already dropped the premier class from the Qatar billing due to travel restrictions while Thailand has been postponed until the end of the year.
Calls are growing for Formula 1 to take similar steps, especially with the Vietnam race as the country shares a border with China.
Williams deputy team boss Claire Williams says F1 must ensure that everyone, teams and fans alike, are safe.
“It’s an incredibly serious situation,” she told Motorsport.com. “Being a global sport travelling around the world with thousands and thousands of people, and that doesn’t take into account the number of fans travelling as well, there’s so much movement that we’ve got to be incredibly responsible and enormously responsive as well.
“But at the moment it is a moving target. We’re clearly keeping in touch with the relevant authorities, with F1 as well, and taking the guidance as it’s coming. But it is changing literally by the hour at the moment.
“It’s quite a difficult management piece, when you’re thinking about F1 and the number of personnel that you’re taking to a race. Plus the amount of kit that you’re putting on air freight and sea freight, and the cost involved in all of that.
“We want to go racing at the end of the day, but we’ve got to make sure that we keep our people safe in doing that. We will just continue to take the guidance as and when it comes through.”
Brawn says F1 “responsible” in whatever decisions are made going forward.
“It’s a very serious situation, so I don’t want to underplay it,” he acknowledged. “But we’re trying to have races. We’ve got to do them in a responsible way.
“We’re minimising the number of people in the paddock, we’re asking the teams to send a minimum number of people they need to a race.”