McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl feels among numerous challenges Formula 1 faces with returning to racing a general backing from the public and fans will be essential.

F1 bosses are currently assessing how to salvage the 2020 season following the ongoing postponements triggered by the coronavirus crisis, with Ross Brawn targeting up to 18 or 19 races if the season can restart in July.

But with strict bans on travel and large public events remaining in place for the foreseeable future across large sections of the world, plus the focus for all medical facilities to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, F1’s timeline for a return to racing is clouded.

McLaren boss Seidl says the priority remains the health and safety of everyone involved in F1 and sticking to travel and medical guidelines from each country. But if F1 can work out a situation where it can start the 2020 season, including racing behind closed doors, Seidl has urged the sport to consider “public acceptance of events happening again” rather than risking a backlash.

“The most important thing is to protect our people, so definitely can’t go back to racing until we definitely know that our people are safe,” Seidl said in a video conference. “Then I think it will simply depend on the guidelines of our home counties first of all - travel guidelines, the guidelines we get for our daily life - because we need to see if that allows us to travel out and back into our home countries.

“I think we have to simply wait what the different countries are deciding, whether races can happen. Then we need to see what the promoters are deciding, because especially with changes of dates for a lot of races, the promoters need to be up for it and it needs to make sense from a commercial point of view for the promoters and Formula 1.

“I think is an important point is the public acceptance of events happening again. Because I think it’s important that we only go back to go racing once we have certainty when it comes down to protective equipment, to the number of tests for people, that this is all in place and available to people that actually need it and that we are not the ones burning these tests or this material just to go back racing.”

Seidl remains optimistic F1 fans and the wider public would be supportive of the sport returning to action when it is safe to do so, even with races closed to spectators, but has urged caution during the ongoing crisis.

“I think there’s a big desire from people - from the public, from the fans - that especially in these lockdown situations we are all in at the moment that sporting events are happening again, even if it’s just on TV,” he said. “But again there are a lot of different aspects that need to be considered.

“You need experts judging this and in the end we need to rely on the guidelines that different governments will issue for each of these countries because I am sure, similar to what we did in previous months, that if we follow the guidelines and the guidelines allow us to go racing then we will be in a safe place also for our people.”

Provisionally, the 2020 F1 season remains set to start at the French Grand Prix on June 28 but the Circuit Paul Ricard event is under increasing doubt given the extension on banning large public events in France until at least mid-July.

The Belgian Grand Prix also faces a similar situation after the national government confirmed public events would be banned until September.

 

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