Coronavirus: F1 stars will accept behind-closed-door races, says drivers' chief Wurz

By Sports Desk May 23, 2020

Formula One drivers will tolerate 'ghost races' in front of empty grandstands this season out of an "obligation" to the sport.

Grand Prix Drivers' Association chairman Alex Wurz delivered that message, albeit insisting nobody in the paddock would relish the prospect of racing going ahead without spectators.

It is out of necessity, during the coronavirus crisis, that Formula One is returning with races held at circuits that will be as biosecure as possible.

The delayed season is expected to start in Austria, with the first race on July 5.

Austrian Wurz, who drove for Benetton and Williams in his Formula One career, stressed the situation is far from ideal but will be embraced because it is all that can be achieved for now.

He told Sky Sports: "Let me say that I think no one in motor sport, no driver, and personally me definitely not, is a fan of ghost races. Because we live from the emotions which are shared together.

"A football match, or athletics, they have a stadium, we have a race track and 100,000 spectators who share this great event together, and that makes a big difference to how you feel.

"However, all the drivers I have spoken to, and I'm constantly in talks with them, no one has said 'No, I don’t want to do it', or 'I feel it’s the wrong thing to do'.

“It's actually the right thing to do because we have an obligation to our industry.

"Motorsport, Formula One, is a global industry, and like every government in the world, we are all trying to kickstart the industry, the economy, because people's families and mortgages depend on it. And it's the same in Formula One.

"So ghost races are a means to get us back on track earlier than if we wait for fan-attended races. Therefore we are looking for ghost races, and all the drivers accept that - fully."

Wurz said F1 has had a close eye on driver safety for many years, and protecting all involved from the COVID-19 threat is an extension of that.

And he vowed the sport would not visit nations where there is already a severe strain on medical systems.

Looking at the case of Austria, he said: "In terms of medical treatment, medical space, emergency units around the Red Bull Ring, there is no problem.

"Then we have to ensure that we are not passing the virus on between the industry and the hosting nation. And equally within our circuit we have to ensure that we have distance between each other and we minimise the risk of passing on."

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