Formula One fans the world over are busily watching the Netflix series Drive to Survive as the second season has just been released but the script being written for a third season will be of blockbuster quality. This past week, Liberty Media’s CEO Chase Carey, announced boldly that it’s still ‘all systems go’ with regard to the Vietnam Formula 1 race and recently when questioned on the impact COVID-19 (the official name for the Noval Coronavirus) would have on the F1 calendar he remarked ‘I don’t think its productive to get into hypotheticals.’ However, Scuderia Ferrari’s Team Principal Mattia Binotto is very much after concrete answers and not hypotheticals as it has now been announced that they seek assurances about the risks they may face at the Australian Grand Prix…never mind looking ahead to Vietnam.
Due to the fact that there has been a steep climb in reported cases of COVID-19 in Italy, current cases at going to press mounted to 888 with the tragic total of 21 deaths, much speculation has arisen of the travel plans for teams and border entries. Many countries have imposed a 14-day quarantine period for travelers from COVID-19 outbreak regions and due to the fact that Maranello is a mere 200 miles from an area experiencing such an outbreak – anxiety is mounting.
Ferrari has already closed their Ferrari museum and restricted personnel access to the factories in the hope of reducing contact with other members of the public. Now, most recently, this weekend's Bahrain Formula 2 test was heavily impacted for Italian personnel and not only that but the F2 racer and F1 Junior, Christian Lundgaard will miss the whole of the F2 testing due to having stayed at the Tenerife hotel which has also had an outbreak – so now is in a 14-day quarantine.
Motorsport publication Autosport revealed the comments of the Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto:
"Some of our engineers going there [to F1 testing] have remained home - so instead of taking the risk to be there and eventually staying there for a few days or many days, they stayed home….I think what we will need is simply to have assurance before leaving. I don't think we can discover when [teams arrive] what can be or what will be the situation.
Mattia Binotto is referring to the welcome personnel will get upon arrival to Australia and he is seeking detailed knowledge of the processes planned.
"So, if there are any medical screenings, we need to know about them. You need to know exactly what's about. We need to understand what the consequences are in case of any problem.”
Italy is handling new cases daily and the country, certainly its media, is very anxious of the days ahead. Binotto’s thoughts are very much with his employees.
"Obviously we need to protect our employees. We have got collective and individual responsibility towards them. And it's important, really, to make sure that before leaving, the picture, whatever is the scenario, is known and clear."
Mattia Binotto also warned though that it would not just be Scuderia Ferrari and AlphaTauri affected by the outbreak and the ramifications of it:
"I say it's not only two [teams] because we are supplying assistance to Haas and the Alfa Sauber team…So it will be four teams at least, plus the Pirelli situation which we need to understand. So what will be the situation that if eventually four teams cannot run and if the race will take place or not? That is not my decision."
As I said, season 3 of Drive to Survive will be one for the books.
Potential plots of:
- Dramatic meetings held between Formula 1 Team bosses and F1 CEO Chase Carey (I doubt the cameras will be in there though)
- Italian personnel potentially being banned from the opening race of the 2020 F1 season.
- Scuderia Ferrari not even being part of the opening race of the season…and maybe other teams too.
- Pirelli staff travel issues…the list of potential scenarios goes on.
So, to borrow a phrase from Chase Carey, I also ‘don’t think its productive to get into hypotheticals’ but time is indeed running out and as Mattia Binotto said – it may not be his decision…but a decision must be made and fast!
One of the stars of Drive to Survive was certainly Daniel Ricciardo...read this feature if you too are a fan: https://www.motorlat.com/notas/f1/14691/how-the-honey-badger-can-learn-from-the-professor