Travel bans cast doubt over Grand Prix
Next week’s Australian Formula One Grand Prix will be postponed or cancelled if racing giant Ferrari is denied entry into the country due to the coronavirus.
The federal government is weighing up issuing further travel bans, including on Italy, which would stop Ferrari staff leaving their famous headquarters in Maranello for Melbourne.
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Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed on Tuesday that the government is looking into bans on Italy, along with South Korea, where the virus has spread rapidly.
“There are no options off the table, I can assure you. And we’ll be always putting the health of Australians first,” he told the ABC.
Read: Travel bans extended to South Korea
Any ban on Italy would force the F1 season opener at Albert Park to be abandoned, postponed or drastically altered.
F1 managing director Ross Brawn said if one team was ruled out of competing, then any race could not count for series points.
Danny Ric might not get to race in front of his home fans.Source:Getty Images
“If a team is prevented from entering a country we can’t have a race,” Brawn told Reuters.
“Not a Formula One world championship race, anyway, because that would be unfair.
“Obviously if a team makes its own choice not to go to a race, that’s their decision.
“But where a team is prevented from going to a race because of a decision of the country then it’s difficult to have a fair competition.”
Melbourne Grand Prix chief Andrew Westacott confirmed Formula 1 teams were on their way to Albert Park.
“It’s Formula One’s role to bring the show to town, we’ve spoken very regularly to Formula One and that show is coming to town,’’ Westacott said.
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said his team would need confirmation from F1 and FIA officials that there would be no surprises before allowing staff to travel to Australia.
“What we will need is simply to have assurance before leaving,” Binotto told Motorsport.com.
“If there are any medical screenings, we need to know about them. You need to know exactly what’s about. We need to understand what are the consequences in case of any problem.
“Obviously we need to protect our employees. We have got collective and individual responsibility towards them. And it’s important, really, to make sure that before leaving, the picture, whatever is the scenario, is known and clear.”
Binotto wants confirmation before the entire team travels.Source:Getty Images
Four-time F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel lives in Switzerland, while Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc is based in Monaco, so the pair could still travel to Australia.
But a ban on Italy, which would join China Iran and South Korea as travel-affected countries, would still rule out Ferrari’s squad of mechanics and support staff from being in Melbourne.
The coronavirus has caused havoc in Italian sport, with a government ruling meaning all sporting events will be held behind closed doors until at least April 3.
The country’s death toll from the coronavirus has exceeded 100.
— Oliver Caffrey and Ed Jackson, AAP
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