Austria’s sports minister open to double closed race

Werner Kogler, Austria’s Vice-Chancellor and Sports Minister believes a two-race closed Austrian GP at the Red Bull Ring in early July is “conceivable”.

France’s decision on Monday to extend its lockdown has placed a big cloud of uncertainty on the French GP scheduled on June 28. A subsequent call-off would put Austria next in line to open the 2020 F1 season.

On Tuesday, Austria became the first European country to start easing coronavirus restrictions, but all public sporting events will remain banned until the end of June.

However, Minister Kogler isn’t dismissing the possibility of F1 racing at the Red Bull Ring on July 5, without any spectators, if the country’s health situation continues to improve.

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“Apart from the fact that I am not responsible [for the event], it is concievable for me,” Kogler told Kleine Zeitung.

“The organizers must know that they have to comply with all health regulations and the entry and exit regulations.”

Formula 1 director of motorsport Ross Brawn is mulling a plan that would see the F1 paddock operate within a “closed environment”, where the space would be virtually locked down for the duration of the event to minimize risks of contagion and propagation.

Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko said last week that the Spielberg circuit, which is owned by the energy drink company, could be up and running “overnight”, therefore providing track operator Projekt Spielberg with a margin of time before confirming or cancelling the race.

For now however, the track remains on course for Austria’s July 5 showcase event.

“Please understand that with the multitude of aspects that have to be taken into account in the current situation, Projekt Spielberg cannot comment on daily speculations,” said a spokesman for the company.

“The event depends on the further development and the legal basis on the part of the legislature. Based on the existing legal regulations, we can continue to assume that the event will go according to plan.”

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