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F1 continues onwards as Europe tightens restrictions

Formula 1 will race on to complete its 2020 season as several European territories enter a second lockdown amid a wave of Covid-19 cases.

The championship’s current campaign was delayed by a few months due to the pandemic and is tackling a heavily revised schedule of events.

Seven of the 10 Formula 1 teams are located in England and on Saturday evening Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that a new lockdown, of duration at least four weeks, will come into force on Thursday.

England’s new restrictions come in the wake of several other European nations – including France, Italy and Germany – announcing similar measures in recent days.

Elite sports, of which Formula 1 is classified, are allowed to continue while those involved in the operation of the championship are exempt from the 14-day quarantine period upon returning home.

In the last lockdown in the spring team factories closed to all but essential workers, or those employed on Project Pitlane, as the mandatory shutdown period was shifted forward and extended to 63 days.

Under the new rules, which will come into place in England on Thursday, manufacturing industries are allowed to continue and while international travel will be prohibited for holidaying purposes it will be permitted for those on business.

Since the previous lockdown in Europe Formula 1 has received approval from various governments on account of the strict testing regime it has enforced to all attendees classified as Profile 1.

Protocols have also been put in place to isolate those who test positive, as well as those in their immediate bubble, to ensure grands prix can still take place.

Formula 1 has only four rounds remaining – after Sunday’s race at Imola – and they will take place in Turkey, Bahrain (x2) and Abu Dhabi.

“I think the lockdowns that we see in Europe now are very different to the lockdowns in spring,” said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.

“In spring, it was a complete shutdown of any activity. This time, from what we see from Germany and France, access to pubs, restaurants and leisure paces has been stopped or curfewed, but going to work is still permitted for the ones who need to go to work.

“It will impact our lives, that’s for sure, it will heavily impact some industries but I think we can find a way of working around it.”

Wolff believes the guidelines put in place by Formula 1 and the FIA means relevant authorities can be confident that the championship’s presence does not bring any risk to local citizens.

“I think we’ve been travelling from country to country, we’ve kept in our bubbles, we’ve had very few positive Covid cases,” he said.

“That’s why I don’t think we’re really providing a risk to the country we are visiting because we are probably the safest group of people out there but who am I to judge?

“Somebody who can understand much more about the medical situation will have an input and will have a say, and the FIA and FOM will just have to take their guidance.”

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