Minds were turned to the spread in Europe of the coronavirus rather than to the track on the first day Wednesday of the second and last test session of pre-season F1 on the circuit of Barcelona.
Alfa Romeo reserve driver Robert Kubica took an unrepresentative first place on the timesheet. The Pole is the only one to have put on the softest tires and therefore the fastest on a lap.
Dutch Max Verstappen (Red Bull), Mexican Sergio Perez (Racing Point), Russian Daniil Kvyat and French Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) complete the top 5.
Note also spin without consequences for Verstappen and the German Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari), an engine problem for Williams, suspensions for Red Bull and piping connection for AlphaTauri.
In the paddock, Ferrari, whose headquarters in Maranello are located in the areas of northern Italy affected by the Covid-19, had to answer questions.
“Of course that concerns us, assured the main team Mattia Binotto. Part of the team postponed its flights in order to ensure that all concerns were answered correctly.”
“But there is no panic,” he added. “It’s just a matter of making sure we get it right. We coordinate with F1 and the International Automobile Federation (FIA). The team is very careful and aware of the situation. “
La Scuderia had already announced on Monday that it had temporarily closed its museums in Maranello and Modena, restricted the access of its employees residing or having visited the affected municipalities, suspended visits from outside as well as non-essential business trips.
– Grand Prix in danger? –
Another team, AlphaTauri, is based in Italy, in Faenza, south of the infected areas. This indicates having identified all its employees, subcontractors and service providers to assess the risk and increased the frequency of cleaning of its plant.
There remains the question of the post-test period, while air links are suspended and the temporary closure of certain borders envisaged.
“We do not know if (the team members present in Barcelona) will be able to return. If they return, we do not know if they will be able to travel to Australia” for the first Grand Prix of the season on the 15th March, sums up Pierre Gasly.
For now, only the Chinese GP in Shanghai, originally scheduled for April 19, has been postponed to a date to be announced.
The first GP of Vietnam in Hanoi, whose track has just been completed, “will take place as planned” on April 5, again assured his boss Le Ngoc Chi. “We are of course monitoring the situation closely and will notify customers and the media if there is a change,” he said.
Two competitions planned shortly before in the Vietnamese capital were postponed: the March 29 marathon and an international badminton tournament qualifying for the Tokyo Olympic Games which was to be held from March 24 to 29.
The FIA, too, continues to “closely monitor the development of the situation with the competent authorities and its members” and “will evaluate the calendar of its next races and, if necessary, take all measures to help protect the world motorsport community and the general public. “
Two days of testing are still on the program Thursday and Friday. After confirming last week that their single-seaters behaved as expected from the simulations carried out at the factory, the teams must now focus on the settings and performance.