Melbourne's F1 GP will be in doubt if Italian giant Ferrari is barred from entering Australia. Image by AP PHOTO

motor racing

GP boss optimistic despite virus threat

2020-03-06 14:52:01

Australian Grand Prix boss Andrew Westacott remains confident next week’s Melbourne event will go ahead despite the global impact of the coronavirus.

The federal government has announced “enhanced screening” for people travelling to Australia from Italy, where more than 100 people have died from the virus and affected cases continue to surge.

Some of Ferrari’s Formula One squad of mechanics and support staff will be arriving from Italy, with the company’s headquarters located in Maranello.

The newly rebranded AlphaTauri team, formerly Toro Rosso, is based in the northern Italian town of Faenza.

The coronavirus situation is rapidly evolving but Westacott has no doubt the F1 season-opener will run as normal even if an outright travel ban is introduced.

“I’ve learnt through this exercise to not speculate on medical matters, but by that stage (early next week) the vast majority of Formula One teams will already be in the country,” Westacott told 3AW.

“The teams, while they still have to go through the enhanced screening measures … there’s going to be a level of self-policing.

“The intricacies of Formula One, you’re not going to put your team in jeopardy because you’ve had exposure to this (virus).”

Travellers from Italy will be asked mandatory questions at check-in and anyone who fails the checks will be denied approval to board an aircraft.

Organisers need every F1 team to clear customs otherwise a Grand Prix cannot be held for championship points.

“If a team is prevented from entering a country we can’t have a race,” Brawn told Reuters this week.

“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.”

When confirming the updated travel measures, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Grand Prix situation was one for the Victorian government.

Mr Morrison said no one involved with the Grand Prix corporation had reached out to try and relax travel restrictions for Italy.

“The decision on the travel bans that we announced (on Thursday) were based on our ability to deliver enhanced screening capabilities at the airports,” he told reporters in Canberra.

“And the advice we had is we could do that for Italy.”

AAP has approached the Victorian government for comment.

There won’t be just the F1 cars roaring around Albert Park during the four-day event, with the second round of the Supercars championship and various other support categories also scheduled to run.