Formula 1 CEO Chase Carey has suggested a positive coronavirus test for a driver will not cause a grand prix to be cancelled.
The 2020 F1 season was placed on hiatus by the COVID-19 crisis, but is set to finally begin in July after an eight-race European schedule was published on Tuesday, with more grands prix to be added in the coming weeks.
In March, just as the crisis was officially elevated to a pandemic, the Australian Grand Prix was called off at the last minute following a sequence of events triggered by a positive COVID-19 test for a McLaren team member.
It has been made clear by the FIA in recent weeks that as the understanding of the virus is much greater now, and more sophisticated testing and containment measures are in place, that a positive test will not have the same impact once the season begins.
However, the prospect of a driver contracting coronavirus has not been addressed until now, with Carey indicating that teams will simply have to call on their reserve drivers.
He also made it clear that if one team withdraws, the race weekend would go ahead.
McLaren withdrew in Melbourne, and eventually the majority of its fellow teams did the same in support.
“An individual having been found with a positive infection will not lead to a cancellation of a race,” Carey said on F1’s official website.
“We encourage teams to have procedures in place so if an individual has to be put in quarantine, we have the ability to quarantine them at a hotel and to replace that individual.
“Some things we’d have to talk through and work through. The array of ‘what ifs’ are too wide to play out every one of them, but a team not being able to race wouldn’t cancel the race.
“I don’t think I could sit here and lay out the consequences. But we will have a procedure in place that finding infection will not lead to a cancellation.
“If a driver has an infection, [teams have] reserve drivers available.
“We wouldn’t be going forward if we were not highly confident we have necessary procedures and expertise and capabilities to provide a safe environment and manage whatever issues arrive.”
Carey said governing body the FIA “deserves an enormous amount of credit” for its work at establishing the health and safety process that has convinced the Austrian and UK governments to give their respective F1 races the green light.
He said the set of guidelines amounts to “80 to 90 pages” covering travel, accommodation, meals, bathroom breaks and socialising between work at the track.
Personnel will be tested before travelling and then every two days on arrival.
F1 says it has two “tracking options” in the event someone has a positive test.
To manage situations in which personnel cannot perform their jobs while social distancing, F1 personnel, officials and marshals will have to work in “sub bubbles of people” and use protective equipment where required.
“Clearly we recognise our sport is one which at times, we can’t have two metres between every individual on a team,” said Carey. “When a car pulls into a pit and has to change four tyres, there won’t be two metres between every individual.
“We need to make sure we have procedures to manage all those risks as soon as possible.”