Claire Williams says the safety of the team’s staff will be “paramount” and her number one priority when the Formula 1 season eventually gets underway.

The opening 10 races of 2020 have been called off due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, though F1 officials hope to kick off the heavily-delayed season with a series of behind closed doors European rounds beginning with the Austrian Grand Prix on July 5.

While Williams’ deputy team principal admitted it is “absolutely critical” for the British squad’s future that F1 is able to resume racing this year amid financial uncertainty caused by the crisis, she insisted it would not come at the cost of putting its personnel at risk.

Speaking in Sky F1’s latest Vodcast, Williams said: “It is scary that you could not just lose one or two teams, but an awful lot of teams if you don't get back racing because the financial model we have in our sport is that we are all so reliant upon the money we receive from the results in the constructors championship.

"But you have to weigh up the need to go back racing in order to ensure your team's survival against the very important reality of ensuring that your people remain safe.

"For me, at the end of the day my people are always going to win out. I certainly hope that doesn't cost us our team, but the safety of our people, whether that be returning them to work at Grove, or asking them to travel, is going to be absolutely paramount.

"We will certainly not be sending people back racing until it is appropriate to do so.”

F1’s plan to get the campaign off the ground safely with double-header events in Austria and Silverstone includes frequently testing a trimmed-down number of paddock personnel for coronavirus every 48 hours to prevent any cases of infection.

The “biosphere” environment blueprint to create a “bubble of isolation” was outlined by F1 managing director of motorsports Ross Brawn last week and would see staff from all 10 teams kept apart as much as possible during race weekends.

Discussing the sport’s health and safety plans, Williams added: "I know the work F1 have been doing, they've been putting an awful lot of time and energy into this to see what they can do in order to take us back racing and to do that safely.

"They're going to make sure that they put in every possible health and safety regulation that they need to and make sure we're all doing it in absolutely the right way before we actually go back to the race track."

 

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