Prison risk for UK and non-EU F1 personnel in Hungary

Steven Tee/Motorsport Images

Prison risk for UK and non-EU F1 personnel in Hungary

Formula 1

Prison risk for UK and non-EU F1 personnel in Hungary


The Hungarian Grand Prix is set to be a nervous week for many within Formula 1 due to new restrictions on non-EU citizens in Hungary.

The Hungaroring will host the third round of F1’s delayed season next weekend, with the paddock traveling directly from the Red Bull Ring to Budapest after Sunday’s second race in Austria. However, new COVID Code of Conduct guidelines have been issued to all attendees as a result of severe restrictions that have been communicated by the Hungarian promoter.

British citizens and those who are not part of the European Union are subject to tough penalties if they leave their hotels or the track, with a fine of up to €15,000 ($17,000) and imprisonment listed as the punishment by the Hungarian authorities if anyone is found to be anywhere other than those two venues.

The restrictions are the result of changes to Hungary’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, as it restricts movements into a country that has seen fewer than 5,000 cases and 600 deaths attributed to the pandemic.

Seven of the 10 teams are based in the UK, as well as F1 itself and a number of FIA members are also UK citizens. The sport is not exempt from the restrictions, meaning half of the drivers on the grid are also at risk if they do not adhere to the guidelines.

The 10 drivers that are exempt are Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz, Pierre Gasly, Esteban Ocon, Kimi Raikkonen, Antonio Giovinazzi, Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen.

The sport has been operating under a bubble system to reduce the risk of infection and transmission, and teams have had to remain within their respective sub-bubbles — comprised of the immediate people they need to work with — throughout the opening two race weekends in Austria.

Charles Leclerc was warned for breaking protocol when he returned to Monaco between the two Austrian races and was pictured in an art gallery and restaurant not respecting social distancing with other people outside his bubble.