AlphaTauri boss Franz Tost says it would be “unfair” for the 2020 Formula 1 season to start without all 10 teams if restrictions over the coronavirus outbreak prevent some from travelling. 

Organisers for the opening two rounds in Australia and Bahrain have insisted both races will go ahead as planned despite the developing COVID-19 situation, which has already forced the cancellation and/or postponement of a number of major sporting events including the Chinese Grand Prix and MotoGP events in Qatar and Thailand. 

With concerns continuing to grow over the spread of the flu-like virus across the world, a host of countries have began imposing travel bans and quarantine rules. Australia’s government is currently monitoring the outbreak and whether to place restrictions on travel from countries like Italy, which has the most confirmed cases of coronavirus in Europe. 

Such a scenario could cause personnel issues for teams such as AlphaTauri and Ferrari, both of whom have bases near the worst-affected regions of northern Italy.

"If [some] teams are not or cannot travel for any reason, I have not thought about this and I am not the decision maker, but I think it would be unfair to start the season,” Tost said. 

“Because this is a big disadvantage for whoever it is [who is missing].

“Everything is changing hourly and this makes it difficult,” he added. 

“We, from our side, had to change all the flights to Melbourne because most of our flights were booked via Singapore or Hong Kong or whatever, which is not easy, the process is still going on.

“Then of course in the factory we had to send out some information on how to behave, travelling is reduced, we do not want to have visitors coming from the red zone, and all this kind of stuff just to prevent any complications.” 

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto stressed the disruption would not be limited to just his side and AlphaTauri, with F1 tyre supplier Pirelli and Haas chassis-builders Dallara also based in Italy. 

"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,” he explained. 

"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.”

On Wednesday, the Vietnamese Government confirmed it was imposing a 14-day quarantine period before entering the country for all travellers coming from Italy, South Korea and Iran. 

The inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix is scheduled to take place in the country’s capital, Hanoi, on April 5.

F1 chief Ross Brawn has moved to confirm the sport will not hold any races without all 10 teams on the grid if it because of travelling restrictions.

“If a team is prevented from entering a country we can’t have a race. Not a Formula 1 world championship race, anyway, because that would be unfair,” Brawn told Reuters.

“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.”

 

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