MARCH 12, 2020
Steiner defends F1 amid charges of poor management
Gunther Steiner has stopped short of pointing the finger at Liberty Media and the FIA's "poor management" of the coronavirus crisis that is gripping Formula 1.
While sporting events, motor races and large gatherings of all sorts are cancelled the world over, F1 has pressed ahead with the start of the 2020 season in Melbourne.
"Only time will tell if this is the right or the wrong thing to do," said McLaren driver Carlos Sainz.
Most are of the opinion that racing should not be the priority right now, especially as several team members are currently showing signs of the virus and are awaiting tests in isolation.
If they test positive for Covid-19, the Australian GP but also the entire 2020 season will be in serious doubt.
"I don't know if we should not all know better," said Sebastian Vettel on Thursday.
"We have to be careful. I don't know what will happen when we have the first sick people from Formula 1 - I hope it doesn't get to the point where we have serious cases or even deaths," the Ferrari driver added.
"That would really be the point at which we have to pull the handbrake."
Vettel was echoing earlier comments by six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, who had said he was "very, very surprised" that F1 pushed on with the start of the season.
"It seems like the rest of the world is reacting, probably a bit late," said the Mercedes driver.
"But already this morning we have seen Trump shutting down the borders from Europe to the United States. The NBA is being suspended. F1 continues on."
Kimi Raikkonen agrees that it is "probably not the right thing" to be trying to race in Melbourne.
"I think if it would be purely the teams' decision, we probably wouldn't be here," said the Alfa Romeo driver.
In a letter to the FIA, the Grand Prix Drivers' Association pleaded with the fans in Australia to keep "a safe distance" from the F1 stars and not ask for selfies or autographs.
Vettel told reporters: "Lewis is absolutely right when we asks why we are here."
Haas boss Gunther Steiner, though, stopped short of slamming F1's authorities for pressing on.
"Not just us but the whole world is in a difficult situation," he said. "I don't think this is poor management of our sport - none of us knew how it would all develop.
"I've been in Melbourne since Sunday and there was no problem. Then the situation escalates and it keeps changing almost every hour. We just have to deal with the situation as best we can."