Formula 1 will attempt to complete its 2020 season despite a fresh United Kingdom lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that will last until early December.
The 2020 season was delayed until the start of July due to the coronavirus, only being able to restart as the UK emerged from restrictions and with the approval of various host countries. However, the number of cases and rate of infection have both been rising across many parts of Europe, leading to new lockdowns being imposed.
While the UK – where F1 itself is headquartered as are seven of the teams and several suppliers – previously attempted a regional lockdown approach, its Prime Minister Boris Johnson has now imposed a fresh national lockdown that will start on Thursday, Nov. 5, and end in early December.
Despite the lockdown, elite sports are being allowed to continue due to their strict testing protocols, meaning F1 will be allowed to attempt to complete its season even though international travel has been heavily restricted. The sport already receives exemptions so that those involved do not have to quarantine when returning to the UK from abroad, and expect that to continue after recent talks with the government.
Under the lockdown measures, the main threat to the sport will be whether any of the race organizers in Turkey, Bahrain or Abu Dhabi opt against continuing with their race.
When the lockdown was widely reported but yet to be confirmed, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff stated his confidence that F1 would be able to complete its season.
“I think the lockdowns that we see in Europe now are very different to the lockdowns in spring,” Wolff said. “In spring, it was a complete shutdown of any activity. This time, from what we see from Germany and France, access to pubs, restaurants and leisure places has been stopped or curfewed, but going to work is still permitted for the ones who need to go to work.
“It will impact our lives, that’s for sure – it will heavily impact some industries – but I think we can find a way of working around it.
“You never know whether we can do all the races that are left because clearly the health question comes first,” Wolff continued. “To jump straight to your last question, it’s in the hands of the health authorities of the countries that we are visiting to accept us. If those guys decide it’s too much of a risk, then obviously we can’t race there.
“In terms of the decision-making process, I believe that Formula 1 has really done a great job – (and by that) I mean the FIA, FOM and the teams in running a championship contrary to other (series) that are run in a much-reduced way or totally confined in some areas. We’ve been traveling from country to country, we’ve stayed in our bubbles, we’ve had very few positive COVID cases; and that’s why I don’t think we’re really a risk to the countries we are visiting because we are probably the safest group of people out there.
“But who am I to judge? Somebody who understands much more about the medical situation will have an input and will have a say; and the FIA and FOM will just have to (accept) their guidance.”