Austrian Official: We don’t want to get in the way of Formula 1

The Austrian government is not opposed to this year’s Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring taking place without spectators, Sports Minister and Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler said on Wednesday.

The first nine rounds of the F1 season — up to and including the Canadian Grand Prix on June 14 — have been called off due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

That leaves the Austrian race at Spielberg on July 5 as the second still on the schedule after the French Grand Prix on June 28.

“We don’t want to get in the way,” Kogler told reporters when asked if the government would allow the race to take place.

However, he said it was different to staging a football match without fans because of the number of technical staff involved.

The 10 F1 teams each have around 60 people in the paddock on race weekends while F1 staff, plus technical and safety officials as well as media and broadcast personnel, would bring the total attending the race to more than 1,000.

The number would increase further if the usual support races, such as Formula 2, are also run.

Kogler added that travel restrictions could be a bigger hurdle than social distancing rules.

“This must then be considered within the framework of the existing restrictions on entry and exit (into the country),” he said. “I don’t want to anticipate if an exemption will be needed here or there.”