The governing body of Formula One, the FIA, has set up a Crisis Cell to monitor the spread of coronavirus and its potential impact on global motorsport.
The Chinese Grand Prix has already been postponed as a result of the spread of the COVID-19 stand of coronavirus, but all other Formula One races are due to go ahead as scheduled, starting with the Australian Grand Prix next weekend. Meanwhile, the FIA-sanctioned all-electric single seater series, Formula E, has called off races in China and Italy — two of the countries with the highest rates of COVID-19 cases.
The new FIA Crisis Cell will meet every two days to consider how the spread of the coronavirus impacts on motorsport around the world.
“Professor Gérard Saillant, President of the FIA medical commission, gave a detailed presentation on the development of the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak [at Friday’s meeting of the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council],” a statement said. “An FIA Crisis Cell has been established and convenes every second day to consider the latest developments around the world.
“The FIA continues to closely monitor the situation and its implications, together with its Member Clubs and Promoters, and follows the advice of relevant authorities including governments and the World Health Organization.
“The FIA will evaluate the calendar of its forthcoming competitions and take any action required to help protect the global motor sport community and the wider public, including the postponement of competitions where necessary.”
The coronavirus not only poses a risk to F1’s travelling community, but may also result in the sport’s host countries bringing in travel restrictions that limit the movement of F1 personnel.
The first round of the Moto GP championship had to be called off after Qatar imposed a 14-day quarantine period for anyone travelling from Italy or Japan. So far, the same problem is not expected to impact the opening rounds of the F1 season in Australia and Bahrain, but with the situation developing on an hourly basis the new FIA Crisis Cell will be monitoring the advice of governments regarding international travel.
Speaking earlier this week, F1’s motorsport boss Ross Brawn confirmed that any race that did not feature all ten teams would not count towards the world championship.
“If a team is prevented from entering a country we can’t have a race,” he said. “Not a Formula One 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.”