There is barely a sport across the world that hasn’t been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, but perhaps one of the most affected is F1.
The sport is a global one, with drivers and teams travelling the world to compete, with a record 22 countries planned for visits in 2020.
But ten of these have already been cancelled or postponed and there are doubts whether the season can begin at the planned date of early July.
It takes thousands of people to put on a Grand Prix, and even though all the races this year will be behind closed doors, there are doubts over whether it can go ahead.
F1 agreed a deal last week to race twice at Silverstone and there are talks to do the same at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.
However it could be the case that the virus is still around enough to prevent global travel.
To make F1 a world championship, the sport has to visit three continents and race at least eight times. Is there really much point in an eight race season?
With the spreading of the virus so fast and difficult to detect, one person in the paddock could pass it on to several others.
This was the case back in Australia when McLaren withdrew after an employee tested positive, with the event eventually cancelled.
There’s only a limited time before F1 needs to go on its winter break and prepare for 2021. Working in the sport is tough for those involved, moving from place to place, setting up, racing and packing away before getting on yet another plane to yet another destination.
Since the poor handling of the Australian Grand Prix, F1’s organisers have been clear with their gameplan, postponing races in advance and setting out plans to start again.
If F1 does start again in July, would the teams have to be quarantined for two weeks following their arrival in a new country?
This would make it almost impossible to get even eight races in, and it’s not fair on the team members to have to go through that for five months.
If F1 can get started safely then brilliant. Every fan wants to see it back on our screens as soon as possible, but nobody wants to put the team personnel at risk.
Verstappen (l) and Hamilton (r) are set to go head to head for the 2020 title
Of course it would be a disappointment to lose a season. 2020 is set to be the last season with Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari before he is replaced by Carlos Sainz. It could be Kimi Raikkonen’s final year in the sport and we’d be deprived of what could be an incredible title fight between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.
New tracks could be used to limit international travel, Magny-Cours and Paul Ricard in France for example could both be used, but this would come at the cost of a truly global championship.
Ultimately, safety is everything and if F1 can’t confirm the safety of its personnel, perhaps a season missed in 2020 and a return to full time racing in 2021 isn’t such a bad idea.