Bahrain Grand Prix: Coronavirus fears prompt special measures from organisers

Lewis Hamilton won the Bahrain Grand Prix last year
Lewis Hamilton won the Bahrain Grand Prix last year


Bahrain is instigating special measures for Formula 1 personnel working at its grand prix later this month in the wake of the global coronavirus outbreak.

The Gulf state has imposed a 14-day quarantine on travellers from countries where outbreaks are most severe, including Italy, home of Ferrari.

But authorities are planning an expedited process for F1 personnel to limit the effect of the restrictions.

F1 is working on introducing a similar arrangement in Vietnam.

The south-east Asian country, whose inaugural race is the third of the season after Australia and Bahrain, has also imposed a 14-day quarantine period on anyone arriving from Italy.

This could threaten the race if authorities are not able to reach a suitable agreement with F1.

A race would not be held in a country that denies access to any team due to coronavirus restrictions, said F1 managing director Ross Brawn.

"Obviously if a team makes its own choice not to go to a race, that's their decision," he told Reuters.

"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."

An F1 spokesman said the sport was "working with the promoter and local authorities in Vietnam on possible solutions", adding that the event in Hanoi was "going ahead at the moment".

Bahrain immigration and health authorities have requested the names and flight details of all F1 personnel who work for teams, administrators, broadcasters or media who have been to, or transited through, China (including Hong Kong), Iran, Iraq, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Egypt, Lebanon and Thailand in the 14 days before their arrival in Bahrain.

This is in addition to the names and flight details of all passengers planning to arrive in Bahrain via the United Arab Emirates.

These passengers are expected to be screened at Manama airport on arrival and if they are clear of the virus will be allowed to enter the country.

The Bahraini and Vietnamese restrictions on travellers from Italy are a special threat to F1 as a result of the number of organisations based in the country. In addition to Ferrari, this includes personnel from tyre supplier Pirelli and the Alpha Tauri and Haas teams, among others.

A Pirelli spokesman said: "So far, we follow the indications given by F1. So far, these only underline that in Australia and in Bahrain we Italians (plus other nationalities) will face a medical check once landed there.

"For Vietnam we don't have any indication yet, except that the GP will be held as planned and it will be with us."

The season opens with the Australian Grand Prix on 13-15 March, followed a week later by Bahrain and then Vietnam on 3-5 April.

Organisers of the season opener in Melbourne said on Monday that the race was "going ahead".

Australian Grand Prix Corporation boss Andrew Westacott said the health and safety of everyone at the race was "paramount", adding: "At this stage there is no indication of further travel bans, nor is there any indication that F1 and the teams will not be arriving as usual."

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