November 29, 2020

Drivers risk imprisonment or fines at Hungarian GP

Charles Leclerc outside the Ferrari garage
Leclerc was warned about returning home to Monaco between the Austrian and Styrian GPs

Formula 1 drivers and team personnel risk imprisonment or a hefty fine if they break lockdown restrictions at next weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

British and non-European Union citizens have been told by the government they must stay within the confines of the track or their hotels at all times.

Anyone caught breaking the rules faces a €15,000 fine and/or a prison spell.

All meals have to be eaten at the track or at their hotel and using public transport and taxis is forbidden.

Seven of the 10 teams are based in the UK and although staff come from all over the world, the restrictions will apply to many.

Of the drivers, Britons Lewis Hamilton, Lando Norris and George Russell, British-Thai Alexander Albon, Mexican Sergio Perez, Canadians Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi, Australian Daniel Ricciardo, Russian Daniil Kvyat and potentially Monaco’s Charles Leclerc will be affected.

But F1 has advised all personnel to stick to the guidelines, regardless of their country of origin.

Guidelines issues by F1 said this was “in order to clearly demonstrate the willingness of all stakeholders and attendees to respect the measures which the Hungarian government has established for the running of the Hungarian event, and to avoid any possible confusion within the local community, it is highly recommended that all attendees adhere to the restrictions”.

Meanwhile, Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto said he had warned his drivers of their responsibilities after each received a warning for breaking F1’s coronavirus protocols.

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Sebastian Vettel was warned at the Austrian Grand Prix last weekend after being seen talking to Red Bull’s Christian Horner and Helmut Marko while none were wearing a mask or observing correct social distance.

And Charles Leclerc flew home to Monaco between that race and this weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix and was pictured with friends.

F1 personnel are required to stay within social ‘bubbles’ at the event and between races to minimise the risks of spreading the coronavirus.

Binotto said: “The instructions for Charles and Seb and probably the entire team are that we need really to pay attention to how important it is to be here and race for the entire circus.

“Being distracted on the protocols is not great, we need really to be strict. So this has really raised our attention, our concentration, really paying attention.

“Both drivers understood that they did something wrong, and I’m pretty sure they will pay more attention in the future.”

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas also went home to Monaco but escaped without a warning because there was no evidence he had strayed outside his ‘bubble’.