Coronavirus: Ferrari shuts down production because of ongoing crisis

Formula 1
Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel will not be in action until at least May

Ferrari has shut down production at its Formula 1 and road-car factories in Italy for two weeks as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

It is part of a wider lockdown that began last week across badly-hit Italy.

Ferrari said the decision had been made “for its employees’ wellbeing”.

Chief executive officer Louis Camilleri said: “It is out of our respect for them, their peace of mind and of their families that we have decided on this course of action.”

Staff who have laptops and the possibility to continue to work from home will do so, with Ferrari planning on being shut down until 27 March.

Italy is the worst affected country in Europe, with over 1,440 deaths so far.

Other F1 teams are carrying on working for now, despite the uncertainty over when the season will start this year.

Mercedes’ two F1 factories in the UK will continue normal operations but all team members returning from Melbourne will self-isolate for 14 days.

Ferrari’s decision comes after the F1 season was suspended following the cancellation of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.

A decision to postpone the succeeding Bahrain and Vietnam races followed hours after the Melbourne race was called off on Friday morning in Australia. The Chinese Grand Prix, which had been scheduled to be the fourth event of the season, was postponed in February.

Governing body the FIA and commercial rights holder the F1 Group gave conflicting information in concurrent statements as to the likely next steps.

The FIA said it hoped “to begin the championship in Europe on 1 May”, which is the scheduled start of the Dutch Grand Prix weekend, the first race after the long-haul events.

But F1, which controls the calendar, said in its statement that both organisations “expect to begin the championship in Europe at the end of May, but given the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in Europe in recent days, this will be regularly reviewed”.

That suggests a start date of the Monaco Grand Prix, which is currently scheduled for 22-24 May.

In reality, neither may be possible and insiders say that in fact F1 is tentatively planning at this stage for the season to start with the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on 7 June.

There will be a rejig of the calendar and an attempt to cram in as many of the postponed races as possible before the end of the year, although some will inevitably fall by the wayside.

And any start date depends on the progress of plans to control the spread of the coronavirus around the globe.

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