The rapidly-worsening outbreak of deadly swine flu threatens to affect the world of formula one.

Next week, the grand prix circus is scheduled to be preparing for a race at the Circuit de Catalunya, which is located about a half hour from downtown Barcelona.

It is reported that, in the whole of Europe, the Catalunya region has the greatest number of suspected swine flu cases.

On Monday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) raised their pandemic alert level to 4, in the wake of the spreading infections and nearly 150 deaths in Mexico.

As F1 raced in Bahrain on Sunday, schools and public events in Mexico were closed or suspended.

It is expected that the raising of the WHO alert could result in governments of the world setting travel restrictions, with spokesman Peter Cordingley admitting that air travel is an easy way for viruses to spread.

But WHO assistant director General Keiji Fukuda added: "With the virus being widespread, closing borders or restricting travel really has very little effect in stopping the movement of this virus."