F1 teams join coronavirus fight as AlphaTauri's Tost reveals 'scary' life in Italy

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Several Formula 1 teams will be joining the fight against coronavirus by manufacturing much-needed ventilators for hospitals.

As the pandemic continues to escalate, with over 250,000 cases now confirmed globally, sporting activities have come to a halt with the first seven races of the 2020 season now either cancelled or postponed.

Indeed, in hopes of stacking up Grand Prix's when it is safe to do so, F1 and the FIA have brought forward the normal summer factory shutdown for a period of three weeks, instead of the usual two, to be observed before the end of April.

That shutdown, however, does not apply to non-F1 related activities and allows teams like Williams, McLaren, Mercedes and Red Bull to use their applied technologies divisions to develop essential products.

“A collective of UK-based Formula 1 teams, engine manufacturers and their respective technology arms is evaluating support for the manufacture of respiratory devices in response to the UK Government’s call for assistance," an F1 statement said.

“The teams are working in collaboration with Formula 1, the UK Government and other organisations to establish the feasibility of the teams producing, or supporting the production of, medical devices to help in the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

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“All the teams have expert design, technology and production capabilities, and specialise in rapid prototyping and high-value manufacturing, which is hoped can be applied to the critical needs set out by Government.

“Working with Innovate UK, the High-Value Manufacturing Catapult team and UCL and University College London Hospitals, the teams are evaluating a number of routes in conjunction with existing manufacturers and organisations from the aerospace and automotive sectors.

“It is hoped this work, which is being rapidly progressed, will produce a tangible outcome in the next few days.”

In Italy, Fiat is also looking to adapt their production lines to produce ventilators while the Agnelli family, who own the carmaker, has donated 10m Euros to the Italian government in their fierce fight against the coronavirus.

But the impact on the country, which has now seen the most deaths of any country during this pandemic, has been severe as AlphaTauri boss Franz Tost revealed.

"When I drove from Rome to Faenza for a good two hours, I met maybe 20 cars along the way. The highway was empty," he told SpeedWeek.

"You don't see anyone on the street here either, the whole life takes place in people's homes. We have a curfew, and you can only avoid it if you go grocery shopping, or to the pharmacy, or doctor, or to work."

Asked if the situation was akin to a disaster movie, he replied: "Yes, it's really scary, all of that.

"You look out of the window on the street and there is not a human soul to be discovered. We are used to the fact people in Italy like to stay on vacation, Italians are sociable people anyway. It is ghostly."

The Austrian also confirmed all members of the Red Bull sister team are healthy at this time.