Now that Italy started to tackle the outbreak of deadly and highly-infectious Coronavirus with a major lockdown across 14 provinces, doubts arise over the upcoming F1 races. Severe travel restrictions will not allow citizens residing in Lombardy, Piedmont, Veneto, Emilia-Romagna and Marche to travel outside of their province, let alone out of the country. However, a loophole in the decree undersigned last night can make a difference, permitting business trips, medical examinations held out of town, work-related issues and urgent (although unspecified) personal reasons.
Where does F1 stand at this point? The Australian GP is taking place in less than a week’s time, hence most of the paddock personnel happens to have reached the venue already. Alpha Tauri, being Faenza-based (Ravenna province) was not affected by the aforementioned restrictions, unlike Ferrari, Pirelli or Dallara. As for the Maranello-based outfit, no issues have been detected from withi, as their employees started flying out to Melbourne on Saturday. A team spokesperson confirmed that their staff has currently been authorized to leave, whereas Mattia Binotto and other senior management figures are set to depart tomorrow.
“Following measures announced by the Italian Government last night, we are monitoring and evaluating the situation and we are in close contact with the relevant authorities and all organizations involved” reads Ferrari’s statement.
“For Ferrari, compliance with the Government regulations, represents the primary guarantee for ensuring the safety of its employees and their families, which is our priority. Every single decision will be made with respect to this principle”
“Part of the team and equipment have already arrived in Melbourne and the departures for the remaining members of the team are going ahead as programmed, unless we receive communication to the contrary”.
Therefore, while the Australian GP is set to take off in full force with mild controlling procedures and restrictions, Bahrain came up with the brave yet sensible solution of holding a participants-only race with the aim of further enforcing their successful prevention against the epidemic.
More uncertainty clouds the normal course of the Vietnam GP, whose first edition is scheduled for the first week of April. The FIA has been closely monitoring the situation, considering cancellations, postponements and calendar modifications to ensure the safety of teams, drivers and personnel.
Hanoi city chairman Nguyen Duc Chung is pondering to issue a school shutdown, given the fast-paced spread of the virus, with further consequences on sporting events including the F1 race. By March 11th, a clearer picture concerning the situation will be provided and a final decision concerning the Vietnam GP will be taken.
Further concerns surface as the weeks pass by, wondering whether Italian citizens will be quarantined upon arrival in Bahrain or Vietnam, as local Government will have the last word on their access to the country. At the moment, both countries hold a travel ban against Italian people, who (as per legal procedure stated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) must accept a 14-day quarantine.