LONDON (Reuters) – Williams will put safety first even though the team is one of several whose survival depends on Formula One starting racing again, deputy principal Claire Williams said.

Speaking on a Sky Sports ‘vodcast’ with drivers George Russell and Nicholas Latifi, Williams made clear the coronavirus pandemic posed an existential threat.

The Liberty Media-owned sport hopes to start its delayed 2020 season with two grands prix in Austria in July.

“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,” she said. “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.”

Once-dominant family-run Williams finished last in 2019, scoring just one point, and are one of the more vulnerable teams on the starting grid although Formula One is their core business.

Williams said she had to balance “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,” she added. “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.”

Formula One managing director Ross Brawn this week outlined plans for going back to racing, with health checks and isolation in the paddock, and believed the sport could provide a safe environment.

“Everybody will be tested and will have a clearance before they even go into the paddock, and then every two days they’ll be tested whilst in the paddock and that will be with an authorised authority and consistent,” he said.

“We’ll have restrictions on how people move around, We cannot socially distance a team, we cannot have staff socially-distanced,” he said. “So we have to create an environment that, within itself is effectively a small bubble of isolation.

“And the teams will stay within their own groups. They won’t mingle with other teams, and they’ll stay at their own hotels.”

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Timothy Heritage)

All copyrights for this article are reserved to The Star