Zandvoort not panicked about coronavirus

MARCH 6, 2020

Zandvoort not panicked about coronavirus

Race boss Jan Lammers thinks the coronavirus situation should not endanger Zandvoort's return to Formula 1 in May.

With China already postponed, and doubts still remaining about the flyaway races in Australia, Bahrain and Vietnam, many have been saying the Dutch GP could in fact be the first event that actually goes ahead in 2020.

But the Dutch National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) on Thursday announced the worrying news that coronavirus infections have doubled to 82.

It means even the European races are currently in doubt.

"We need to leave this to RIVM's insight," Lammers, a former F1 driver who is now the face of the Zandvoort race, told De Telegraaf.

"I realise that global health is more important than a sporting event, but there is no point in anticipating anything at this point."

Zandvoort is expected to be one of the best attended grands prix in 2020. Lammers admitted organisers are keeping an eye on developments.

"We're waiting," he said. "I understand that the Geneva motor show has been cancelled, but that was more sensitive as it was indoors.

"Zandvoort is an open air event so I think there is a bit more leeway."

Even Liberty Media's normally low-profile CEO Greg Maffei has weighed into the situation, admitting coronavirus poses "certain risks for our business in Formula 1".

"We postponed China, but that was not our decision. The Chinese government told the promoter not to race.

"The situation for us is that the first three races of the season in Australia, Bahrain and Vietnam will be held as planned," he added.

Even former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone thinks the decision to postpone Shanghai was right.

"I would never cancel a race," he told Auto Motor und Sport. "Moving it is better.

"The virus will be with us for a while, but perhaps later in the year there are gaps in which you can drop one or two of the first races because the situation has calmed down."

One of the biggest unknown answers is what would happen if Pirelli's Italian-based staff become infected or stuck in quarantine. That could affect the entire sport.

"It's the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about," said an unnamed team boss.

(GMM)

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