F1 watching Spain coronavirus developments following spike in cases

Formula 1
Lewis Hamilton on the Spanish Grand Prix podium

Formula 1 is monitoring Spain’s coronavirus situation following a spike in cases, amid concerns about the country’s grand prix.

F1, along with other elite sports, has an exemption from the UK government’s newly imposed 14-day quarantine on all travellers returning from Spain.

That means the race can still go ahead on 14 August in current circumstances.

But F1 bosses will not take risks with the health of participants and are watching developments closely.

Spain is taking new measures to cut a spike in Covid-19 cases amid fears of a more widespread ‘second wave’.

Catalonia, the state that hosts the Spanish Grand Prix, has closed its nightlife for two weeks, but cities outside the north-eastern region are also seeing a surge.

F1 and governing body the FIA feel that the race can still go ahead if the situation does not markedly worsen, BBC Sport understands.

However, if the spikes increase significantly, then they may need to reconsider whether holding the race would be safe.

The sport has taken stringent measures to ensure its events can take place with minimal risks regarding coronavirus, after the start of the season was delayed by four months because of the global pandemic.

All attendees at races must have had a negative Covid-19 test no more than 96 hours before arriving at the event, and are tested every five days through periods of races.

There is also a system of ‘bubbles’ and ‘sub-bubbles’ to minimise contact between teams, as well as a track-and-trace operation in the case of any positive tests.

Over the first three races in Austria and Hungary this month, there were only two positive tests and neither of these involved frontline race-weekend staff.

F1 last week cancelled the events planned for the USA, Mexico and Brazil in October and November because of the high numbers of coronavirus cases in those countries.

F1 has so far scheduled 13 races, and the first one where fans are set to be allowed is the Russian Grand Prix at the end of September.

But there is still uncertainty about the make-up of the end of the 2020 season, with no races currently scheduled after the first weekend in November.

F1 is close to agreeing to hold a race in Vietnam, which had been due to make its debut on the calendar in April before the race in Hanoi was cancelled, and is in talks with Malaysia about a return to the Sepang track which last hosted F1 in 2017.

The season will then end in the Middle East, probably with two races in Bahrain before a finale in Abu Dhabi in December.

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