McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl believes it is “very difficult” to outline how, when and if Formula 1 racing can resume in 2020 as it will require “public acceptance” amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
All events until mid-June have been either postponed or cancelled while the provisional season opener in France is set to be abandoned amid the national government’s lockdown extension.
It leaves Austria, on July 5, as the next target for Formula 1, with the country having begun to ease restrictions on Tuesday, prompting hopes major events can resume in the coming months.
Formula 1 has raised the notion of resuming behind closed doors though that is also laced with potential setbacks.
Over 1,000 essential personnel would need to be present, along with medical staff, while the international nature of Formula 1 means a range of guidelines in different territories would have to be observed.
But with limited tests available for key workers – such as members of the healthcare sector – Seidl believes Formula 1 would have to act responsibly before considering holding events.
“Obviously it’s [the return of F1] a very difficult topic and it will be depending on a lot of different aspects,” Seidl said during a conference call with media on Wednesday.
“The most important thing is to protect our people, so definitely we can’t go back to racing until we definitely know that our people are safe.
“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.
“Then 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.
“And then also what 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.
“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. But again there are a lot of different aspects that need to be considered.”
Seidl added that it was currently “impossible to judge” whether any government would permit a Formula 1 event to take place in 2020.
Formula 1 teams, Liberty Media and the FIA are due to reconvene on Thursday afternoon to discuss the next steps to take.
Seidl ruled out the notion of a ‘Super Season’ – whereby 2020 and 2021 are combined into one championship – but says teams will have to be flexible in order to get the campaign underway.
“We all have to be open and flexible to new ideas or for ideas that help us to do as many races as possible as long as it makes sense from the commercial side,” he said.
“Again, the most important thing is to protect our people so as I said before if we can help our people by doing two-day events it makes sense.
“In terms of format for a race weekend, again, if there is a commercial reason behind it then it might makes sense to do two races on a weekend but I think as long as it is not the case then for me the event format we have at the moment with the qualifying on Saturday and the race on Sunday it is working quite well.”