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Monday's Formula 1 news roundup: Max Verstappen, Nico Hulkenberg, Charles Leclerc

Here, Sports Mole rounds up the latest Formula 1 news on Monday, October 19.

Sports Mole rounds up all of the latest news regarding Formula 1 on Monday, October 19.

Monday morning's Formula 1 news roundup:

Portugal reducing spectator numbers for F1 race

Bernie Ecclestone pictured on September 27, 2019© Reuters

Portimao is having to reduce the number of spectators allowed into the circuit this weekend.

Lusa, Portugal's largest news agency, quoted circuit director Paulo Pinheiro as saying that while 46,000 tickets for the F1 race went on sale, many fans are unlikely to actually attend due to the latest coronavirus developments.

"We are still waiting for the final version of the health directorate's opinion, but in principle, the maximum limit should be 27,500 seats," he said.

Pinheiro says he is expecting that document on Monday, with Formula 1 scheduled to race this weekend.

But he explained that even if the eventual crowd number is lower than the amount of tickets sold, there are "several withdrawals" from international spectators "who either failed to travel or are afraid" of the virus.

Portugal's director-general of health, Graca Freitas, admits that his institution is acting "very cautiously" at present amid the "worrying" situation.

F1's governing body says a further eight members of the sport's travelling circus tested positive for covid-19 in the past week.

Even former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has become worried about the pandemic, with his Swiss hotel Olden now closed.

"One of the employees contracted the virus," he told Blick newspaper. "So we are sticking with the rules, because covid-19 is ten times worse than the flu.

"Now I support the demand for widespread use of masks," the 89-year-old added.

Hulkenberg thinks he can be close to Verstappen

Nico Hulkenberg pictured on August 6, 2020© Reuters

Nico Hulkenberg thinks he could satisfy Red Bull's requirements to become the new teammate for Max Verstappen in 2021.

Continuing to support Alex Albon for now, Dr Helmut Marko said recently that even Hulkenberg or Sergio Perez would only be able to get within three tenths of Verstappen's pace.

Hulkenberg told "On better days I can be closer than three tenths to Max.

"Max is a real killer in terms of speed and being his teammate is a difficult task, but it would be interesting to understand where I am in relation to him."

German Hulkenberg says he is happy that his last-minute stand-in performances for Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll at Racing Point this year have resulted in some calling him a "firefighter".

"There aren't that many drivers out there who can do that - just jump in and perform," he told Bild am Sonntag.

"But being a fireman is not what I am striving for. There were teams that wanted me to work permanently as a substitute driver after my first assignment. But a regular cockpit is my priority."

Hulkenberg says Red Bull is clearly "the best option" for 2021, but he acknowledges the chance of securing the seat is small.

More news from Formula 1:

Stroll 'back to normal' for Portugal
Racing Point thinks Lance Stroll will be "back in the car as normal" this weekend in Portugal. Read more.

Honda exit 'very dangerous' for F1 - Horner
Honda's withdrawal from Formula 1 has put the sport in a "very dangerous situation", according to Red Bull team boss Christian Horner. Read more.

F1 insider thinks Red Bull should consider Magnussen
A former F1 insider says Kevin Magnussen would be a "brilliant" candidate to become Max Verstappen's next teammate at Red Bull. Read more.

Journalist backtracks over Ferrari conflict claims
A respected Italian journalist has backtracked after claiming that top members of Ferrari's management team are at war. Read more.

Vettel should retire and be F1 ambassador - Stewart
Sir Jackie Stewart says he will be "happy" once Sebastian Vettel decides to hang up his helmet. Read more.

Racing Point says McLaren, Renault also 'copied' Mercedes
Racing Point is not the only team that 'copies' the concepts of their dominant rival Mercedes. Read more.

Leclerc's brother not rushing on road to F1
Charles Leclerc's brother says he is not yet dreaming about racing in Formula 1. Read more.

No negotiations with Hulkenberg yet - Steiner
Gunther Steiner says he is not actively negotiating with Nico Hulkenberg about a Haas seat for 2021. Read more.

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Kevin Magnussen pictured on February 21, 2020
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