The participation of the Ferrari and AlphaTauri teams in next month’s inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix could be in jeopardy following the country’s decision to impose a 14-day quarantine on travelers entering from Italy.
As the coronavirus outbreak spreads beyond China, Formula 1 is scrambling to deal with restrictions and potential travel limitations imposed on the sport’s teams by countries it is set to visit.
Australian and Bahrain Grand Prix organisers have so far confirmed their respective March 15 and March 22 events. But Vietnam’s most recent decision to impose a 14-day quarantine on individuals traveling from Italy throws a massive spanner into the works of Ferrari and AlphaTauri.
A cluster of coronavirus cases erupted in northern Italy last month, with the novel virus affecting over 2,000 people and causing 52 deaths.
In February, Vietnam confirmed 16 coronavirus cases in a village near Hanoi, but all patients received treatment and have supposedly since recovered. However, all incoming travelers from China, South Korea, Iran and Italy will be subject to the mandatory 14-day isolation.
Vietnam Grand Prix organisers have also stated that their event will take place as scheduled on April 5th, but how Ferrari and AlphaTauri will deal with the logistical nightmare of avoiding the quarantine is anybody’s guess.
It has been suggested that the teams’ personnel, and the many Italian staff working in F1 such as employees of tyre supplier Pirelli, could circumvent the mandatory quarantine in Hanoi by not returning to Italy after the Bahrain Grand Prix which takes place 14 days before the race in Vietnam.
However, a potential forfeit by Ferrari and AlphaTauri for Vietnam could compel Formula 1 and the FIA to simply scrap the race.
In Barcelona last week, AlphaTauri team boss Franz Tost – alluding to possible travel restrictions regarding Australia – said it would be “unfair” if F1 raced in Melbourne with a reduced grid.
“If [some] teams can’t run for whatever reason – and I have not thought about this and also I’m not a decision maker – but then I think it would be unfair to start the season.
“This is a big disadvantage for whoever it is.”
Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto said that restrictions imposed on Ferrari would also impact its engine customers Haas and Alfa Romeo.
“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.
“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.”