Formula One: No race will be cancelled even if a driver has Covid-19, says F1 boss Chase Carey

F1 chief executive Chase Carey says he hopes to finalise the rest of the calendar by the end of June. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (REUTERS) - Formula One will not cancel a race even if a driver tests positive for Covid-19, chief executive Chase Carey said on Tuesday (June 2).

The American was speaking after the sport published an initial eight-race calendar with the season starting in Austria on July 5.

The original March 15 opener in Australia was cancelled after a McLaren team member returned a positive test for the new coronavirus before the weekend had started.

"An individual having been found with a positive infection will not lead to a cancellation of a race," he said in an interview on the official website.

"We encourage teams to have procedures in place so if an individual has to be put in quarantine, we have the ability to quarantine them at a hotel and to replace that individual," he added.

"A team not being able to race wouldn't cancel the race... we will have a procedure in place that finding infection will not lead to a cancellation. If a driver has an infection, (the teams have) reserve drivers available."

Formula One plans to race without spectators, at least initially, and teams will fly in on chartered planes and be isolated from the local population.

Carey pointed to "a rigorous set of guidelines" of some 80-90 pages detailing the processes for travel, hotels, meals, track behaviour and testing.

Teams will operate in 'bubbles' with social distancing in non-critical areas such as the paddock.

Formula One expects some 1,200 essential personnel with the 10 teams limited to a maximum of 80 people each, compared to the more usual 130.

Carey said he hoped to finalise the rest of the calendar by the end of June and recognised there were some races currently included which might not happen, but the sport had other options.

Teams welcomed the confirmation of the season start late on Tuesday, even though they will be racing in front of empty stands.

Haas driver Romain Grosjean said: "We're going to go racing. That's awesome. Very happy to hear that we finally get some dates and we can go racing... I can't wait to go racing, to see the team again, feel the car... it's going to be a bit different than it was before for a little while but we go racing."

Williams driver George Russell added: "As a driver, you get this real buzz when you arrive at the track and you've got all the fans there cheering you on... it's going to be back to like when I used to race in Formula Four or Formula Three when you just had a couple of hundred people here or there just watching. But I'm sure we'll get used to it."

"Of course the atmosphere will be strange and it is a shame that no spectators can attend, but this is an important first step on getting Formula One back to normal as soon as possible," chimed in AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost.

Carey defended the decision to go racing, saying governments in the countries concerned were supportive of the decision.

"Much of the world is moving forward and I think it is important to realise that the shutdown does have both health, societal and economic consequences which are real long term," he said.

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