Ferrari F1 star Sebastian Vettel has addressed concerns that the season could begin, and potentially finish, without any fans in attendance at the races.
The German former world champion, who was speaking to British journalists on a conference call, addressed a number of thorny issues – not least what impact the lack of action could have on the sport.
F1 is in a very precarious position right now and the 2020 season, when and if it does resume, will do so under very different circumstances to normal.
Nine races have already been postponed or cancelled due to COVID-19, with more likely to follow. Developments this morning suggest that the season could get underway in Austria – with the caveat that there would be no fans allowed to attend.
Vettel says that F1 has a responsibility to protect not only the people in the paddock, but the fans in the stands too.
“We have spoken about that a fair amount inside the GPDA,” he says. “It is a very difficult one. It is a tough decision,” remarked the German.
“On the one hand, you have the health of the sport, if you look at it from the business aspect; on the other hand you have the responsibility to the people in the paddock and of course most importantly the fans.
“It is a sport that is carried out in the open but we have a lot of people who come to watch the races.
“We need to make sure as much as we are taking care of ourselves we are also taking care of the public. There are a lot of options we could have – whether it is without fans, whether it is with fans.
“Nobody likes to race in front of empty grandstands. It feels a bit odd. On the other hand, there is the question when is the right time to start racing again and whether a ghost race could be held a lot sooner than a race in the way we are used to it.
“We would all like get back to normal, not just for F1’s sake, but for everyone’s sake. But the best medicine will be to be patient.
“It is painful because I want to be back in the car and if I am selfish I want to race. But there are a lot of people who would like a lot of things.
“Probably at the beginning the first races will be compromised in terms of what we are used to. But hopefully not too much because we all want to race in front of crowds.”
It also seems likely that the season, whenever it restarts, will see a lot less races than initially intended – but Vettel isn’t too worried about that.
“I don’t think it makes a big difference,” he added.
“A season is a season whether it has 10, 20 or 25 races; you still have to be the most consistent. In the end, the championship is the championship. With 10 races, there would still be a lot of things to get right.”