Sebastian Vettel says that Formula 1 drivers would have no qualms about “pulling the handbrake” on the Australian Grand Prix if the coronavirus situation worsens.
As F1 awaits test results on at least five team members who have shown symptoms of the virus, there is concern in the paddock about the risks the series faces in moving forward with the opening of the season.
Australian health officials have made it clear that any team with an infected staff member will likely be quarantined, which could be enough to cancel the race.
However, Vettel also says that if things got worse in Melbourne – and the staff got sick or worse – then the pilots would be strong enough to stand up and push for the race to be abandoned.
“I hope that the others will agree, and we hope that it will not go as far, but if it were to go that far, it is sure that you pull the handbrake,” said the German .
“I think we are a group of 20 guys and I think we have come together over the past few years for various circumstances on various subjects, and I think we share a common opinion on big decisions and that.”
“I would say it is a very, very big decision and ultimately, as I said before, you look at yourself.
“And we would be, I think, mature enough to take care of ourselves and pull the handbrake in this case.”
F1 drivers have been in contact with the line managers to find out how to best manage the coronavirus situation in Australia.
It is understood that the Grand Prix Pilots Association (GPDA) wanted assurances that F1 would minimize the chances of the virus being transmitted between fans and drivers – this is why autograph sessions and close contact events have been kept.
In a statement released Thursday, the GPDA urged everyone in the paddock to work together to try to get through the difficult circumstances.
“The GPDA has full confidence in Australian health authorities, the FIA, F1 and our teams to act with the best of intentions to protect the health, well-being and safety of fans, officials, drivers and communities wider, “he said.
“The GPDA has been in contact with F1 and the FIA for the past week and we know they are working hard and hard on this difficult task.
“We are all in the same boat and no one takes this situation lightly.
“But [we] let us feel that it is the responsibility of everyone, residents and travelers around the world, to be particularly vigilant and careful in these difficult times that the coronavirus pandemic imposes on us all.
“To this end, the GPDA respectfully suggests that all of us, our Australian friends, our fans, our racing community and our drivers maintain a safe distance and avoid individual contact such as selfies, autographs and handshakes.
“These proposed measures to mitigate the risks are in accordance with the relevant guidelines provided by public health authorities.”