Max Verstappen knows the lack of interaction between fans and drivers due to the coronavirus isn’t ideal, but hopes they understand.
Measures have been put in place at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix to minimise the risk of the virus spreading.
Autograph sessions were replaced with Q and A interviews, FOM have put a one-camera setup in place to conduct all interviews, while Verstappen and Alex Albon had a two-meter exclusion zone around them during a Red Bull media event.
The Dutchman was again speaking to the media on Thursday and said he hopes that fans “understand” why these precautions are being put in place.
“It’s not nice what is happening,” he said.
“I’m trying to follow the guidelines. I’m not a doctor so I’m trying to stick to the advice given. That is the best we can do.
“Info comes from Red Bull, the FIA and Formula 1. So that’s what we’re following. It’s about keeping your distance and washing your hands, the advice that’s given everywhere else.
“The interaction with the fans is obviously a lot less but I hope they understand. In the end, it’s better for them as well.”
Already the Chinese Grand Prix which was scheduled for April has been postponed, while round two of the season in Bahrain will be held behind closed doors.
The global spread of the virus means other races could come under threat, but Verstappen says everyone will just have to wait and see what happens.
“I hope we can race all the Grands Prix, but it depends on the decisions from governments,” he said.
“We’ll have to wait and see.”
Williams’ deputy team principal Claire Williams praised the way organisers of the Australian Grand Prix have handled the situation, saying it’s an “incredibly difficult” one.
“I think it’s an incredibly difficult situation,” she said, as quoted by Crash.net.
“I think for any business in whatever industry that you’re operating in it’s incredibly hard to handle it.
“I think that they’ve done the best job that they possibly can to act responsibly and to do what’s required, but it’s obviously such a fluid situation that it’s not an easy thing to have to manage.”
Four members of the Haas team and one from McLaren are in self-isolation while they await test results after possibly contracting the virus.
Claire Williams says there have been no cases in her team, but the threat of more staff working from home and potential further race cancellations is a financial concern.
“We’re obviously – like F1, like everybody and every responsible business – monitoring the situation incredibly closely,” she explained.
“Obviously we’ve got a steering committee at Williams that has been in place for a couple of months now to make sure that we are acting responsibly and safeguarding everybody that works at Williams doing what we need to do based on the World Health Organisation’s guidance, and that’s all we can do at this stage.
“We have not got a case at Williams, we haven’t, but we’ve got to make sure that we safeguard our business, and that comes in a variety of different ways.
“Through ensuring that we’ve got the capability for remote working should we need to send our people home. I suppose the main consideration for any team is around manufacturing, because you can’t manufacturer parts at home, so if we have to shut down our factory, that could be incredibly difficult.
“You’ve still got wages to pay. You are spending less, but most teams, their wage bill is the largest proportion of their monthly expenditure.”