Williams says safety first but F1 teams must race to survive
Williams will put safety first even though the team is one of several whose survival depends on Formula One starting racing again, deputy principal Claire Williams said.
Speaking on a Sky Sports ‘vodcast’ with drivers George Russell and Nicholas Latifi, Williams made clear the coronavirus pandemic posed an existential threat.
The Liberty Media-owned sport hopes to start its delayed 2020 season with two Grands Prix in Austria in July.
“It is scary that you could not just lose one or two teams, but an awful lot of teams if you don’t get back racing,” she said. “The financial model we have in our sport is that we are all so reliant upon the money we receive from the results in the constructors’ championship.”
Once-dominant family-run Williams finished last in 2019, scoring just one point, and are one of the more vulnerable teams on the starting grid although Formula One is their core business.
Williams said she had to balance “the need to go back racing in order to ensure your team’s survival against the very important reality of ensuring that your people remain safe.”
“For me, at the end of the day my people are always going to win out,” she added. “I certainly hope that doesn’t cost us our team, but the safety of our people, whether that be returning them to work at Grove, or asking them to travel, is going to be absolutely paramount.”
Formula One managing director Ross Brawn this week outlined plans for going back to racing, with health checks and isolation in the paddock, and believed the sport could provide a safe environment.
“Everybody will be tested and will have a clearance before they even go into the paddock, and then every two days they’ll be tested whilst in the paddock and that will be with an authorised authority and consistent,” he said.
“We’ll have restrictions on how people move around, We cannot socially distance a team, we cannot have staff socially-distanced,” he said. “So we have to create an environment that, within itself is effectively a small bubble of isolation.
“And the teams will stay within their own groups. They won’t mingle with other teams, and they’ll stay at their own hotels.”
MotoGP intends to start season in July with races in Jerez
MotoGP has proposed starting its season, after months of delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with two races on consecutive weekends in July at the Jerez circuit in southern Spain.
It said in a statement on Thursday that the regional government of Andalusia, the city council of Jerez and series promoters Dorna had agreed to make a proposal to the Spanish government.
If approved, Jerez would host MotoGP grands prix on July 19 and 26 as well as a round of the world superbike championship on Aug. 2.
The season-opening race would be designated the Spanish Grand Prix and the second the Grand Prix of Andalusia.
MotoGP did not give details of how they would stage the races but all are expected to be run behind closed doors and with only essential staff.
Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta said last month he was optimistic of putting on races from July at circuits where they could be held easily without spectators.
He expected an average of 1,600 people at closed-door races, with manufacturer teams limited to 40 while independent MotoGP outfits would have to manage with 25. Those in Moto2, one rung down, would be allowed 20 and Moto3 a maximum of 15.
Spain, one of the European countries worst hit by the new coronavirus, is gradually relaxing a national lockdown which has brought the outbreak under control but devastated the economy and led to significant job losses.
La Liga soccer clubs have a four-step protocol in place to return to playing matches, without spectators, in June.
The MotoGP season was supposed to start in Qatar on March 8 but that round was cancelled for the top category because of travel restrictions. A string of other races have since been postponed.