AlphaTauri boss Franz Tost believes it would be "unfair" for Formula 1 to allow the Australian Grand Prix to go ahead if several teams are absent over Coronavirus travel restrictions.
While a host of major sporting events, including the MotoGP season opener in Qatar and the following Thailand Grand Prix, have been called off because of coronavirus, the latest news from Australia is that F1 is pushing on with its season opener on March 15.
But amid a quickly developing situation, especially with Italy being the source of a major outbreak of the virus, there is a risk that some team personnel could yet struggle to make it to the early season races if travel bans or strict quarantine rules are put in place.
It was Qatar's decision to quarantine Italian citizens for 14 days on arrival in the country that prompted MotoGP to call off its race there, despite series organisers Dorna Sports initially putting plans in place for all paddock personnel to avoid this.
Struggles for Italian staff could prompt an unprecedented situation where teams like Ferrari and AlphaTauri cannot get enough personnel to races to run their teams, while other outfits are all good to go.
It is unclear how F1 would react in a situation where one or two teams could not compete, but Tost is adamant that it would not be fair for the race to go ahead in those circumstances.
Asked by Autosport if there were any assurances about what would happen in that scenario, Tost said: "If [some] teams can't run for whatever reason, and I have not thought about this and also I'm not a decision maker, but then I think it would be unfair to start the season.
"This is a big disadvantage for whoever it is [who is missing from the grid]."
With F1 already struggling to find a slot later in the year for the postponed Chinese Grand Prix, any change of plans for other races would almost certainly mean them dropping off the calendar.
However, Tost says F1 could still use the August summer break or extend the season well into December to find space for races.
"I'm optimistic that we will have the 22 races because in November and December we have a lot of time where we can do races, and also August," he added.
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said that any problem for his staff getting in to races would likely have an impact on its customer teams in Alfa Romeo and Haas too - so an issue for Italy could affect four outfits in total.
- More on the Coronavirus situation
- Ferrari restricts factory access and travel
- Carey expects Vietnam to go ahead as planned
- Ferrari wants assurances over Coronavirus from F1 before travel
"I say it's not only two [teams] because we are supplying assistance to Haas and the Alfa Sauber team, so it will be four teams at least, plus the Pirelli situation which we need to understand.
"So what will be the situation that if eventually four teams cannot run and if the race will take place or not? That is not my decision."