Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto says that, in light of Formula 1 choosing to go ahead with starting the season, it’s important to entertain the fans.
With Formula 1 opting against postponing or cancelling the season opening race in Australia this weekend, Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto says it’s important to remember the sport’s ‘obligation’ to its fans.
With Italy currently locked in the grip of the coronavirus, with the death toll climbing to more than 350 on Wednesday, there is a widespread ban on travel within Northern Italy and the heart of the affected region includes Maranello – Ferrari’s home base in Italy.
Hospitals in the area are overcome by patients who have contracted the coronavirus COVID-19, which has seen many other major motorsports make the call of cancellation of postponement. However, Formula 1 will race as normal this weekend in Australia, although the following Bahrain Grand Prix will take place behind closed doors without access for the public.
“I am very concerned,” said Prof Massimo Galli, the director of infectious diseases at Sacco hospital in Milan. “The pressure on hospitals in Lombardy these days is enormous. I am very, very worried about the impact the virus will have on our health system.”
With no option other than to race on, Binotto says it’s important for F1 to try putting a smile on the face of the people watching when the lights go out this Sunday: “At what is a difficult time for Italy and the world as a whole, as part of a global sport, it is our obligation to try and put a smile on people’s faces as they prepare to watch the first race of the season with the same sense of anticipation as ourselves.”
However, Binotto has already made it clear that he doesn’t think Ferrari are in with a shout of winning the season opener at Albert Park, but says Melbourne will give the team their first chance to evaluate where they are in the pecking order.
“After a long winter working on building and developing our car, the time has come to get a first indication of our performance level and how effective are the improvements we have introduced over the past few months.” Binotto said.
“We know that the opposition is strong, but we also know that it is the start of a long season where development rate, reliability, and our operational effectiveness will be key. We are gearing up to tackle all these challenges as a united team, conscious of the progress that needs to be made and proud of the support of our fans worldwide.”