Coronavirus: Opening 2020 F1 races will 'probably be compromised', says Sebastian Vettel

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Sebastian Vettel expects the opening races of the 2020 Formula One season to be "compromised" amid talk of the campaign beginning behind closed doors in Austria.

Like most sports around the world, F1 has been heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The spread of COVID-19 saw the scheduled season opener in Australia cancelled. A further seven rounds of the championship have since been postponed, while organisers were forced to cancel the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix.

That has left 13 races on the calendar, however, the French Grand Prix is also expected to fall by the wayside due to restrictions enforced by the country's government.

Austria is the next race on the schedule after that, with F1 pencilled in to head to Spielberg to race on July 5.

The Austrian sports minister, Werner Kogler, indicated the government, which has eased lockdown restrictions, would not seek to stop the race happening without fans.

Vettel is eager to get back behind the wheel, but accepts safety supersedes his ambition to return to racing and any commercial pressures F1 may be under.

"We have spoken about that a fair amount inside the GPDA (Grand Prix Drivers’ Association)," Vettel told F1's official website when asked how a return to the track should be handled.

"It's a very, very difficult one. It's a tough decision. On the one hand, you have the health of the sport if you look at it from a business aspect, on another hand, you have the responsibility of the people in the paddock - the working people inside the paddock - and of course most importantly the fans.

"It's a sport that is carried out in the open but we have a lot of people that normally come to watch our races. We need to make sure that as much as we are taking care of ourselves we are also taking care of the public. Now, there's a lot of options you can think of in terms of how to get going again, what's the best format to start racing again.

"Whether it's without fans, whether it's with fans, ghost races or no-ghost races and other things, I don't know. I think nobody likes to race in front of empty grandstands, it feels a bit odd, but on the other hand the question is when is the right time to sort of say let's start racing again and whether a ghost race can be held much sooner than a race in a way that we're used to it.

“What we would all like is to get back to normal - not just for Formula 1 but for everybody's sake and the whole world - but as I said previously in this regard the best prescription will be to be patient.

"It is painful because I want to get back in the car and if I'm selfish I want to race, but there's a lot of people that would like a lot of things right now compared to the situation they're in now.

"Probably at the very beginning the first couple of races will be compromised compared to what we're used to but hopefully not too much because obviously we want to race in a way that we are all familiar with, meaning in front of crowds, in front of fans, with great atmosphere and so on. We will see."


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