Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Shanghai International Circuit, 2019

Dropping China race would be a shame but health comes first – Wolff

RaceFans Round-up

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In the round-up: Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff hopes China’s round of the championship is able to go ahead despite the threat from the coronavirus.

What they say

China’s round of the world championship is scheduled for April 19th but several other sporting events around the same time have already been cancelled or postponed. Woldd was asked for his view on whether the F1 race will go ahead.

Formula E was cancelled. They are about three weeks, I believe, before us and they cancelled last week.

I would very much hope that we go to China. Actually after this I’m going to the China embassy for my biometric scan so at the moment everything looks like we are going to China.

But not going would be a shame. We had full grandstands last year, it was sold out. China starts to become become a really important market in terms of the fan followership where we have great activities in Shanghai around the race and not going there would obviously not be great for the fans and ourselves.

But health comes first and I hope that they’re getting control of that. That is the bigger priority.

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Comment of the day

Has the time come for Formula 1 to ditch its massive motorhomes?

You can’t deny those enormous motorhomes are a waste. If the organisers can arrange circuits to adapt their facilities to have hospitality units like those seen in flyaway races, why bother with those trucks? it’s one of those things that could easily be gone after some investment.

I agree with Brawn. If they want to be ‘eco’, carrying those around Europe isn’t right. It’s not essential to racing.

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 26 comments on “Dropping China race would be a shame but health comes first – Wolff”

    1. Putting more than 100,000 tightly packed fans together in China does not sound like the smartest thing to do right now. Probably time to bite the bullet. From the South China Morning Post 9 hours ago…

      China’s two biggest cities have announced fresh restrictions on residential communities to prevent the spread of the deadly new coronavirus, joining dozens of mainland cities that have gone into partial lockdown since the epidemic began last month.

      Measures unveiled by the authorities in Beijing and Shanghai on Monday include stricter controls on the movement of residents and vehicles, compulsory mask wearing and shutting down leisure and other non-essential community services.

    2. Couldnt agree more with Toto. Its not just teams but also fans who are risk if the race is allowed to go ahead.

    3. …biometric scan…

      @dieterrencken are you required to get a scan before entering the country? China’s security policies—both internal and external—make me rather nervous (scarily Orwellian).

      I’d love to read a post about the various different hoops you need to jump through like this to attend the fly-away races.

      1. I encourage to chat about US or UK visa procedures with some of your non-EU friends.

        Havent been to China yet but I’m willing to bet it wont come close to Orwellism levels sweet Murica exhibits.

        1. (@minilemm yup, and the way they treat you at the Embassy when applying for a visa makes you feel like you’re dog waste or something…

          1. Not to mention having to answer 30 entirely useless questions of the most amazing (and amusing) sort before you even get there.

            “Have you participated/organised/witnessed illegal organ removal/transplant?”
            “Have you ever organised a kids terrorist group”

            No luv I havent but i’ll send the tweet with the video to your president as soon as I’m done thanks for the idea :)

            1. @minilemm They do that because some criminals are honest/silly (augment as appropriate) to answer “yes” to these questions, or display excessive tension/irritation when saying “no”. (The latter catches out some honest people, but apparently the signal:noise ratio is acceptable to the Chinese authorities).

        2. @minilemm I’m Australian, not EU. Unfortunately haven’t travelled outside the country (other than island cruises) since 2004. I actually don’t know.

          1. Hope you dont find out then :) sorry for ranting for a day underneath your comment – just went to the states after a long break

            Enjoy wherever you go next and I hope it’s sooner than 2030 then!

      2. @justrhysism It’s probably the same sort of scan all British, EU, Canadian, Australian and American people have to have before being allowed a passport – or, as @minilemm pointed out, anyone requiring a visa to any of those countries that doesn’t already have compatible biometric data on their passports and a data-sharing agreement with the nation in question.

        The only reason Toto needs this scan is because the EU does not share its biometric data with China due to concerns over GPDR compliance.

        1. Re signal noise and the point of those questions – makes perfect sense, of course, except all of that is done online and I’ve never had to answer questions of that sort in person.
          Oh well.
          Designed by committee, I guess :)

          Re sharing the biometric data – that one’s puzzling to me, cos I am fingerprinted every time when getting a Schengen visa, am given a piece of paper stating that fact, and containing my fingerprint number, only for the next Schengen embassy to look at it and say “oh yeah, we dont care” (sometimes literally).

          So yeah. None of those Chinese measures are out of the ordinary

    4. Thanks for the birthday shoutout Keith

    5. Motorsport.com reported this very differently, implying standard practice of preparing visas in the assumption the event would go ahead meant teams were being forced to go to China whether they liked it or not.

    6. ..And Singapore, and Suzuka, and Vietnam, and possibly even Oz.
      Let’s start with COTA next month, then look again at where might be safe in Europe…

      1. We’ll see. It could be endemic worldwide by mid-March, in which case it is likely everywhere will probably permit tourists again…

    7. I know Man Utd’s new signing from a Chinese club (Shanghai, as it happens), Ighalo, didn’t go on their mid-season training camp abroad because they were worried he wouldn’t be allowed back into the country if restrictions on travel tightened. Source. They haven’t in the UK as yet, but a few countries have 14-day bans on certain people (usually foreign nationals) who have travelled to either Hubai or mainland China as a whole. Here be source.

      Not saying they will, but if, for example, the Netherlands introduced a ban on entry for people who have visited China in the last two weeks, and F1 did the Chinese GP, the whole flying circus (teams, drivers, officials) would either be banned from attending the Dutch GP or would need exemptions. So that one would seemingly have to be cancelled instead… or the government would be overthrown by angry Verstappen fans and all would proceed as normal.

      I do wonder if that’s the sort of mess F1 would be entirely capable of ending up in.

      1. Formula E’s Chinese driver, Ma Qinghua, is in the middle of one of these two-week quarantines, ahead of the Mexican Formula E race, though in his case I believe this is voluntary.

    8. “We had full grandstands last year, it was sold out.” Yeah, apart from the grandstands that were turned into advertisement and not sold for the crowds, like the outside of Turns 12 and 13.

      1. @kaiie The problem with Shanghai is a similar issue to what you used to get at Indy, The place is so big with so many grandstands that it always looks less full than it is. It always draws very good race-day crowds of between 125-150,000 fans but it never looks it because of the size of the place.

        In Indy’s case the large number of stands couldn’t be helped because the stands are there primarily for the 500/oval but in Shanghai’s case they unnecessarily built more stands than they needed because for some reason they were expecting to draw a larger crowd than any other venue on the calendar at the time which was never a realistic target.

        Something else that doesn’t help in terms of the stands looking fuller is that fans have found over the years that it’s better to sit on some of the grass banks around the circuit rather than use the stands as you get a better vantage point. The outside of the hairpin at the end of the straight is an example, Fans tend to sit on the grass bank around the outside of the corner rather than wanting to use the stands a bit further up the straight because the hairpin is clearly where most the action is likely to happen.

    9. Can we expect RaceFans to leak some photos of the new Ferrari like it did last year or your source has already lost his job :)

    10. Ridiculous.

      I already said this and will say again – this coronavirus hysteria is a total hoax. Yes, the illness is true, but it is in no way worse than ordinary flu (yeah, c’mon, try to say it is not the case to 500000 people which will die from flu this year).

      1. By that rationale, we shouldn’t worry about anything until cancer, heart disease, strokes, alzheimers, diabetes, suicide, liver disease, high blood pressure, and Parkinsons are all cured, among others.

        I am not a doctor, but I think the concern is that it is a new strain of virus, possibly/likely contracted from animals, that is not well understood and it is unclear how it will mutate in the future. You get on top of things before they get out of control. We don’t even have to go back to the 1918 flu pandemic for comparison. If the “common flu” can kill that many people each year with all of the precautions and vaccines and existent medical knowledge, imagine what an unchecked disease could do.

        By all means, go contract the coronavirus strain, and then come back and tell us how much of it is hysteria. We’ll wait.

      2. You do know this virus is killing people, right? Comments like yours are so annoying. People are dying, if you have nothing positive to say please shut up!

      3. @dallein If the health authorities think this way, then coronavirus will end up endemic like flu. Once that happens you’re looking at an effort perhaps 100 times that of eradicating smallpox (because smallpox is covered by 1 vaccine, and flu would need about 100 to catch all the strains). Surely it’s better to avoid even one more potentially-fatal disease from joining flu?

    11. Again, should F1 not race in Bahrain, Azerbaijan, nor attempt to race in Saudi-Arabia (nor the Arabian Gulf/Peninsula region in general), neither should there be Chinese, Russian, US, nor Mexican GP, and definitely no Brazilian GP to name a few. Every country has some problems, none is perfect, so this singling out-thing is a bit ridiculous.

      I agree with the COTD, though.

    12. Agree with the CoTD. It’s unfortunate that F1’s largess is so big.

    Comments are closed.