Formula 1 says exemptions from quarantine “must be provided” for those involved in televised sporting events and says without it the notion of holding races at Silverstone, as planned, will be impossible.
Formula 1’s 2020 season has been heavily disrupted on account of the coronavirus pandemic, causing 10 of the planned opening grands prix to be postponed or cancelled.
Championship officials are working on a proposal to begin the season at Austria’s Red Bull Ring circuit with back-to-back races on July 5/12.
A ‘biosphere’ would be created, along with regular testing of personnel, in order to reduce the risk of infection both for those in the paddock and for cross-contamination with the local population.
The teams would then travel to Silverstone, in Britain, for a further two races on July 26/August 2.
Silverstone has reached an agreement in principle to host two races but these plans are poised to be thwarted by the UK government’s 14-day quarantine period for any inbound passengers.
Under measurements announced last week a mandatory 14-day quarantine period is set to be introduced, with no end date for the regulation, making long-term planning more problematic for international events.
Seven of the 10 Formula 1 teams are located in Britain while Italy-based AlphaTauri has its aerodynamics department in the country.
The UK government’s document outlining its phased return to life post-COVID19 referred to exemption from the quarantine period and Formula 1 has been in dialogue with officials to try and waive the requirement, on the provision that they can prove personnel are free of the virus.
But it is understood to be increasingly unlikely that an exemption will be granted.
“A 14-day quarantine would make it impossible to have a British Grand Prix this year,” said a Formula 1 spokesperson.
“Additionally it has a major impact on literally tens of thousands of jobs linked to F1 and supply chains.
“We would be travelling back to the UK on F1-only occupied aircraft and all staff would be tested making a quarantine totally unnecessary.
“If all elite sport is to return to TV then exemptions must be provided.”
The 14-day quarantine period would not only affect plans for two races at Silverstone but also travel arrangements for UK-based personnel returning home after a period away in Europe.
They would need to quarantine for two weeks before being allowed to return to action for the next batch of grands prix.
Nonetheless, the government has also suggested it could create ‘air bridges’ with lower-risk destinations, avoiding the need for quarantine, in order to facilitate the return of international travel.
Austria, one of the least affected countries in Europe, has had a total of 629 deaths, with no new fatality reported since Saturday.
Formula 1 is still working on a plan to hold as many events as possible in Europe this year, with Spain, Hungary, Belgium and Italy all candidates for a truncated calendar.
Former German Grand Prix venue Hockenheim is understood to have held discussions over a potential return should Formula 1 require a Grade 1 standard track.
Formula 1 hopes to hold 15-18 races, taking in trips to Azerbaijan and Russia in late September, Asia and the Americas in October and November, prior to season-ending rounds in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.
A provisional date of December 13 has been set for the final round in Abu Dhabi.