F1 coronavirus safety plan approved for two races in Austria

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerq of Monaco, foreground, leads at the start of the Austrian Formula One Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring racetrack. (Ronald Zak/AP)

VIENNA — The Austrian Health Ministry has approved safety conditions for Austria to host two Formula One Grand Prix races in July.

The first 10 races of the season have either been postponed or cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, but F1 could finally return with back-to-back races at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg on July 5 and 12.

Health Minister Rudolf Anschober approved the safety plans for the double-header without spectators and with limited numbers of people involved.

“As well as strict hygiene measures, the concept foresees regular testing and health checks for the teams and all of the other employees, and also a concrete medical concept,” Anschober said Saturday in a statement. “For the Ministry of Health, and following a detailed review by in-house experts, the concept meets the requirements for preventing the spread of the coronavirus. The decisive factor is the close co-ordination between the organizer and the regional and local health authorities.”

F1 organizers still hope to hold 15-18 of the 22 scheduled races.

The Australian GP, the Monaco GP, the French GP and the Netherlands GP have all been cancelled.

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