PARIS — Driving around Formula One tracks without fans cheering at Silverstone and Monza would literally feel “very empty” for world champion Lewis Hamilton.
The first 10 races this season have been postponed or cancelled amid the coronavirus pandemic, with the iconic Monaco Grand Prix scrapped for the first time in 66 years.
F1 remains hopeful that the season can start in early July with a doubleheader at the Austrian Grand Prix, and that 15 to 18 of the 22 scheduled races can yet be completed.
But all of them would be held without any spectators until it is safe.
“It’s going to be very empty,” Hamilton said on Saturday, evoking the subdued atmosphere of preseason testing in Spain.
“For us it’s going to be like a test day, probably even worse than a test day in a sense,” the Mercedes driver said. “On a test day there’s not a huge amount of people in Barcelona, but there are still some.”
However, any racing would provide a welcome boost to people during lockdown.
“I’m getting messages from people around the world who are struggling during this period because they’re not getting to watch sports,” Hamilton said in a video posted online by Mercedes. “It just shows just how significant sport is in people’s lives, it brings us all together and it’s so exciting and captivating. I don’t know how exciting it is going to be for people watching it on TV, but it’s going to be better than nothing.”
Hamilton was praised for publicly questioning whether the season-opening Australian GP should go ahead on March 15. It was eventually cancelled, but only two days beforehand and with fans still queuing up.
Hamilton had used the first official news conference with F1 drivers to say he was shocked that organizers planned