Portuguese GP may be forced back behind closed doors

Next weekend's Portuguese Grand Prix may have to run behind closed doors after all, according to new reports... The post Portuguese GP may be forced back behind closed doors appeared first on F1i.com.

Portuguese GP may be forced back behind closed doors

Next weekend's Portuguese Grand Prix may have to run behind closed doors after all, according to new reports from the Algarve.

That's despite ticket sales of around 30,000 already having been announced for the event, which is the first Formula 1 race to be held in the country since 1996.

The first eight races of the delayed 2020 season were all held behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic, meaning that the grandstands were entirely empty on race day.

But the Tuscan Grand Prix was given permission to allow in a small number of fans at Mugello, and the following race in Sochi saw a more substantial crowd able to view practice, qualifying and the race in person.

The Eifel Grand Prix continued the trend with spectators once again permitted into the Nurburgring at socially-distanced locations. Next weekend's race was due to see the return of Formula 1's prestigious Paddock Club for the first time this season.

However since then there has been an upturn in coronavirus cases across Europe with regional and national governments upping restrictions in order to stop the spread..Formula 1 itself has confirmed eight more positive results among team personnel in the last week.

So far Portugal has recorded 95,902 cases of the virus with 2,149 deaths from a population of 10.1 million. The country's Directorate-General of Health (DGS) reported 2,608 cases on Friday, the highest number in a single day since the beginning of the pandemic.

However that's in part due to the total number of tests across the country also having increased.

Even so, it's led to officials taking a fresh look at whether to allow fans to travel to attend sporting events - including next weekend's Portuguese GP at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimao, which has a normal maximum capacity of 90,000 fans.

The head of DGS, Graca Freitas, told a news conference on Friday that another option under consideration would be to reduce the number of permitted spectators.

Freitas added that the authority was still analysing the epidemiological situation in the immediate region where each event was taking place, and the type of event in question.

Even though tickets for the Grand Prix have been on sale for the last two months, race organisers have stressed that any change to the coronavirus situation could result in a rethink.

There has been no immediate comment on the situation from Formula 1 itself.

Under current FIA rules, anyone attending a Grand Prix would still have to wear masks, have their temperature tested, and stick to their designated seat for the duration of their day at the circuit.

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Hamilton hopes Whitmarsh has forgiven him for leaving

Lewis Hamilton hopes that there's no ill will lingering between himself and Martin Whitmarsh, his former boss at... The post Hamilton hopes Whitmarsh has forgiven him for leaving appeared first on F1i.com.

Hamilton hopes Whitmarsh has forgiven him for leaving

Lewis Hamilton hopes that there's no ill will lingering between himself and Martin Whitmarsh, his former boss at McLaren, over his decision to leave the team.

Whitmarsh took over as team principal at Woking in 2009 after Ron Dennis stepped down. He was still in charge when Hamilton dropped the bombshell in 2012 that he was leaving the team to join Mercedes.

The following season was a troubled one for McLaren, and Whitmarsh was eventually ousted from his position as CEO of McLaren Racing and McLaren Group with Dennis briefly resuming his former position.

McLaren hasn't won a Formula 1 race since Hamilton's departure, although Carlos Sainz came close with second place in this year's Italian GP.

Hamilton's decision to leave McLaren and join Mercedes - which at that point had achieved only one race win since its debut in 2010 - was seen as high risk at the time, but has resulted in five world championships and 70 Grand Prix victories to date.

"Calling my boss, calling Martin in particular, was one of the hardest calls that I’ve ever had to make,” Hamilton admitted this week as he reflected on his career.

“I hope that he has forgiven me by now. I think so, because he understands, but ultimately I think it was the right decision.

“I knew it was the right decision for me personally," he added. "I think that is how life is generally: nobody can tell you what to do, only you will know personally what is right or wrong for yourself.

“You can’t have anyone else influence that decision. As long as you do your homework you have got to do what is right for you. And at the time, that is what I did.”

Having approached Dennis at an event in 1995 as a ten-year-old where he announced that 'One day I want to be racing your cars', Hamilton acknowledged that leaving McLaren had been a huge wrench.

“Without their support, along with Mercedes, I wouldn’t have made it to Formula 1," he admitted. "There was no way as a family that we had the sorts of money that some other families are able to throw at this sport.

"My loyalty was to them, but at the time I had to think about what the future would hold and what I wanted to be a part of.

“I wanted to be a part of a team that perhaps hadn’t had as much success, was in the growing phase," he said. "I wanted to be a part of that, that growing journey, building something relatively new.

“That was an exciting challenge, and I didn’t know how long it was going to be until we got to winning ways. But I truly, truly believed that we would get there at some stage.”

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