The chairman of the Grand Prix Drivers Association, former Benetton and McLaren driver Alex Wurz, says that all the current drivers on the grid “fully support’ the decision to race behind closed doors.
Empty grandstands are a requirement of local and national authorities for holding events without risking a renewed outbreak of coronavirus.
Events will also limit the number of team representatives allowed at the venue, all of who will have to have received a negative test for COVID-19 before arrival. The general media will not be allowed to work on site.
Wurz admitted that the empty circuit would inevitably suffer in terms of atmosphere, but that everyone involved understood what was necessary in the circumstances.
“I think no one in motorsport, no driver, and personally me definitely not, is a fan of ‘ghost races’,” he told Sky Sports.
“However all the drivers I have spoken to – and I’m constantly in talks with all of them – no one has said ‘No I don’t want to do it’, or ‘I feel it’s the wrong thing to do’.
“Ghost races are a means to get us back on track earlier than if we wait for fan-attended races,” he explained. “Therefore we are looking for ghost races, and all the drivers fully accept that.”
After the last minute cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix in March when team members at Melbourne’s Albert Park Circuit tested positive for coronavirus the day before free practice was due to start, further races have been postponed or cancelled due to the pandemic.
F1 hopes to get the season underway with a double header at the start of July. However hopes to then move immediately to back-to-back rounds at Silverstone have been thrown into jeopardy by the UK government’s imposition of a 14-day quarantine for anyone arriving in the country from June 8.
Hockenheim has been mentioned as a possible replacement, with Hungary also rumoured to be prepared to step into the breach if necessary.
The uncertainty caused by the pandemic has left the sport under pressure to get enough races in to comprise a full world championship season. Teams also need to go racing to earn prize money to keep themselves financially viable.
“Formula 1 is a global industry,” Wurz pointed out. “Like every government in the world, we are all trying to kick-start the industry, the economy, because people, families, mortgages depend on it, and it’s the same in F1.”