In an exclusive with Pirelli, the company’s motorsport director Mario Isola has underlined the sheer presence of Italian companies on the Formula 1 grid as multiple countries are shutting their borders to Italians to contain COVID-19.
Italy has reported the fourth-most COVID-19 cases in the world, with over 4,500 confirmed cases and almost 200 deaths at time of writing. The country has already taken action by not allowing any visitors to sporting events for the coming month, with Formula E’s Rome E-Prix on April 4th having been postponed as well.
A statement regarding the 2020 Rome E-Prix and #COVIDー19: https://t.co/WbEacQaFwd
— ABB Formula E (@FIAFormulaE) March 6, 2020
As multiple Formula 1 constructors base their operations in Italy, the virus’ outbreak has had a severe impact on the sport and its teams. AlphaTauri and Ferrari have had to significantly change their travel plans to get to the Australian Grand Prix next week, and both Vietnam and Bahrain have announced people travelling from Italy will have to be placed into quarantine before being allowed into the country.
Isola, who has a background in medicine himself, said Milan-based Pirelli have ramped up containment measures as well at their offices in northern Italy.
“The company took some measures as all big companies [have] in the Milan area,” the normally charismatic but now clearly concerned Italian explained to me during the second test in Barcelona.Embed from Getty Images
“What we can do is monitor the situation. Be in close contact with FOM and FIA and the teams, of course. We have our Health and Safety department in Milan that is connected to our headquarters in order to give some support. We have Formula Medicine and Dr [Riccardo] Ceccarelli that is our medical doctor at events. We try to do our best to know what’s going on.”
Not just the teams
With the Bahrain and Vietnam Grand Prix in danger of being postponed as well, the landscape of F1 keeps developing on a daily or even hourly basis, with Isola describing it as an “ongoing situation”.
Organisers of the Bahrain Grand Prix have already communicated they will make its restrictions for Italian citizens more flexible for F1 employees, and Ross Brawn added the F1 will not let races go ahead if some constructors can’t make it because they can’t get into a country.Embed from Getty Images
“Bahrain’s government said Italians are not allowed into the country,” Isola continued on Thursday of the second test. “Three days ago Vietnam announced they close the border to Italians and other countries. I’m talking about Italians because we are Italian and because the presence of Italian people in Formula is quite big.”
Having had 4 major client events cancelled in the next 17 days including one in Bahrain, the next 48-72 hrs are going to determine whether #F1 starts its season in Melbourne or Zandvoort.
— Mark Gallagher (@_markgallagher) March 1, 2020
Besides Ferrari and AlphaTauri (Alfa Romeo Racing are based in Switzerland) – and Isola’s company Pirelli – Italy has a massive foothold in F1, one that cannot be overlooked or can be done without.
“Also the engines because Haas has a Ferrari engine, Dallara (who build chassis), Marelli (who provide telemetry data for F1), Pirelli. There are a lot of companies in Formula 1 who are Italian.”
With COVID-19 still claiming lives every day and yet to be contained, Pirelli and the other Italian companies in F1 will have to continue to limit their travels until it is safer to do so.
Article originally posted on GPblog.com. Featured image per RacePictures.com with permission.