Formula 1: Austrian government not averse to Grand Prix taking place without audience, says sports minister Werner Kogler
The first nine rounds of the Formula 1 season — up to and including the Canadian Grand Prix on 14 June — have been called off due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Vienna: The Austrian government is not opposed to this year’s Formula One Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring taking place without spectators, Sports Minister and Vice-Chancellor Werner Kogler said on Wednesday.
The first nine rounds of the Formula One season — up to and including the Canadian Grand Prix on 14 June — have been called off due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
That leaves the Austrian race at Spielberg on 5 July as the second still on the schedule after the French Grand Prix on 28 June.
“We don’t want to get in the way,” Kogler told reporters when asked if the government would allow the race to take place.
However, he said it was different to staging a football match without fans because of the number of technical staff involved.
The 10 Formula One teams each have around 60 people in the paddock on race weekends while Formula One staff, plus technical and safety officials as well as media and broadcast personnel, would bring the total attending the race to more than 1,000.
The number would increase further if the usual support races, such as Formula Two, are also run.
Kogler added that travel restrictions could be a bigger hurdle than social distancing rules.
“This must then be considered within the framework of the existing restrictions on entry and exit (into the country),” he said. “I don’t want to anticipate if an exemption will be needed here or there.”
The FIA, which had introduced a budget cap of $145 million last season, backed Horner's statement, calling the paddock rumours "unsubstantiated".
Verstappen, who has a mathematical chance to retain his world title this weekend, had looked set to challenge Leclerc's time on his final flying lap before being told to abandon by his Red Bull team.
Max Verstappen opened up a 116-point lead in the drivers' standings over Charles Leclerc following his victory at the Italian Grand Prix.