The corona virus is making headlines these days. In Formula 1, however, the topic is sometimes handled more soberly than elsewhere. The World Automobile Federation (FIA) has set up a corona crisis group that meets every two days to reassess the situation.
On the occasion of the 2020 Formula 1 season opener, which will take place over the weekend in Melbourne’s Albert Park in the form of the Australian Grand Prix, all ten teams will be on site (Formula 1 2020 live in the ticker).
The second race of the season, the Bahrain Grand Prix in Sachir, will take place on March 22 without a spectator on site as a pure TV event. After the third race of the season, the premiere of the Vietnam Grand Prix on April 5 in Hanoi, there are still question marks.
The Chinese Grand Prix, originally planned as the fourth season race in Shanghai, was canceled weeks ago from the scheduled date (April 19) because it was China where the corona virus first appeared. To date, China is the country with the most infections and also the most deaths related to COVID-19.
As of Tuesday, according to statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of people infected with corona is over 116,000 worldwide, and the number of deaths is over 4,000 worldwide. Chinas share ranges from 70 to 80 percent in both statistics.
Helmut Marko, however, considers the subject to be exaggerated. “I think the whole discussion is blown up,” says the Red Bull Motorsport director to ‘Speedweek’, adding: “It is an influenza. Most people die of old age with a previous illness.”
What does Marko mean by “puffed up”? “Quarantine is the problem,” he says. The danger of the disease has not been worse than that of a flu. One must therefore “counteract the alarmism of some politicians and not support them,” said the 76-year-old Austrian.
In Italy, where Red Bull’s B-Team AlphaTauri is based, among other things, a comprehensive exit and entry ban has been in effect for a few days. Initially, “only” the northern regions were affected, but since Monday the entire country. Nevertheless, AlphaTauri, like Ferrari, Pirelli and Co., is on site at the Formula 1 start in Australia.
“You get a special permit if you need it. It is relatively quick,” Marko observes, adding: “It is tedious, but it works.” And Formula 1 will probably continue to act according to this principle in the foreseeable future.
For example, Formula 1 motorsport director Ross Brawn recently said that “although you don’t take unnecessary risks, you won’t just shut everything down completely”. Marko sees it the same way. According to the Red Bull Motorsport director, “one cannot let the whole public life be destroyed by such a virus, which is by no means as dangerous as it is hysterically represented”.