F1 paddock, Sochi Autodrom, 2019

F1 will not cancel races if a driver tests positive for Covid-19

2020 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

Formula 1 will not cancel races if a driver or other paddock members tests positive for the Covid-19 Coronavirus.

The sport abandoned its planned first race of the season in Australia after a McLaren team member tested positive for the virus, which prompted them to withdraw from the race.

However Formula 1 chairman and CEO Chase Carey said today a similar scenario should be avoided in the event that a positive test occurs when the championship resumes next month.

“An individual having been found with a positive infection will not lead to a cancellation of a race,” he told the official F1 website. “We encourage teams to have procedures in place so if an individual has to be put in quarantine, we have the ability to quarantine them at a hotel and to replace that individual.

“Some things we’d have to talk through and work through. The array of ‘what ifs’ are too wide to play out every one of them, but a team not being able to race wouldn’t cancel the race.

“I don’t think I could sit here and lay out the consequences. But we will have a procedure in place that finding infection will not lead to a cancellation. If a driver has an infection, [teams have] reserve drivers available.”

F1 today confirmed details of its revised schedule for the first eight races of the season in Europe.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2020 F1 season

Browse all 2020 F1 season articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

29 comments on “F1 will not cancel races if a driver tests positive for Covid-19”

  1. So if driver tests positive for the virus is he disqualified from the race? What is he is asymptomatic? What if he’s in contention for the championship?

    1. Asymptomatic people are spreading the disease, so, yepyepyep it makes sense to quarantine them.

  2. How fast things change. Not long ago you were the worst person in the world for just suggesting there could be F1 races because of covid, now it doesn’t even matter if the virus is up and down the pitplane.

    1. @balue be careful words are very dangerous.

      1. @peartree: Is that why good jokes are so infectious? Or is it the bad puns?

        1. That’s it, arrest this man @jimmi-cynic .

  3. I’d be interested to see the list of reserve drivers for each team (nudge nudge)

    1. @asanator Not every team necessarily has a definitive one, LOL.

  4. Lenny (@leonardodicappucino)
    2nd June 2020, 21:14

    I disagree with the decision, but regardless it will be more crucial than usual to see who have reserve drivers with super licence capabilities. I’ve listed the following that could get super licences (if they don’t already have one), and their schedule clashes with their racing seats (if applicable):
    Alfa Romeo – Robert Kubica (he will be unavailable for the Styrian GP, British GP, 70th Anniversary GP, and the Italian GP)
    Red Bull and AlphaTauri – Sergio Sette Camara (he is test/reserve driver for both, and no one else in the RBJT has enough superlicence points, he will also be unavailable for the Belgian GP), Red Bull would probably put one of the AlphaTauri drivers in the second RB and then put Sette Camara in the AT
    Ferrari – Brendon Hartley, Pascal Wehrlein, Robert Schwartzman (Hartley and Wehrlein will be unavailable for the Styrian GP, while Hartley will also be unavailable for the Spanish GP), they might also be able to call up Antonio Giovinazzi, contract clause permitting
    Mercedes – Stoffel Vandoorne, Esteban Gutierrez (Vandoorne will be unavailable for the Styrian GP), they might also be able to call up George Russell, contract clause permitting
    Williams – Jack Aitken
    Haas, McLaren, Racing Point, Renault – none

    1. @leonardodicappucino I wonder who’s list the Hulk is on?

      1. Lenny (@leonardodicappucino)
        3rd June 2020, 7:43

        @ijw1 As far as I know he doesn’t have ties to any team, but I think there will definitely be interest. I’d say Racing Point is the most likely option for that of the teams that have no reserve driver (he’s probably too expensive for Haas as reserve, McLaren kind of have Alonso, and the Renault bridge is a little charred).

    2. @leonardodicappucino I assume McLaren can call on Alonso provided there is no clash.

      1. Nah, senior citizens need to stay isolated.

      2. Lenny (@leonardodicappucino)
        3rd June 2020, 7:41

        @mashiat They probably can, he would only be unavailable for the Spanish GP, when he seems to be double booked for both the 6 hours of Spa and Indy 500 qualifying.

  5. Rediclcous. There won’t and can’t be separation in the team. So a positive test will have been infecting everyone for 2-3 days prior. You’ll take out a cunk of the team

  6. Isn’t the recommended guidelines from the medical/scientific community that if one person is confirmed infected then that person as well as anyone they have been in contact with over the week before the positive test must self isolate for 14 days?

    If that is the case then surely continuing with the weekend will be just as bad a look for F1 as Melbourne was.

    And if they end up having to withdraw a team (Or driver) then surely it just invalidates the 2020 world championship to the point of it almost not been worth continuing as it wouldn’t be a one race thing given how compact the season will be (6 races in 7 weeks for instance).

    1. And if they end up having to withdraw a team (Or driver) then surely it just invalidates the 2020 world championship to the point of it almost not been worth continuing

      I don’t understand these emotional (almost end of the world) reactions. The season wasn’t cancelled or invalidated when Schumacher broke his leg; Lauda missed part of the season, and not even when drivers had fatal accidents.

      1. @coldfly True but there is a difference between a driver getting injured (Or worse) in an accident & a driver catching a disease that we know about & is highly infectious & has resulted in a worldwide pandemic that has caused pretty much every country to be in lockdown for a month or more. And if we end up losing teams for 1-2+ races because of it it is again simply unfair to run a season that way.

        If they are unable to guarantee the safety of the personnel when there is a potentially deadly & highly infection pandemic then I honestly do question if it’s wise to continue running races.

        But if somebody is infected & a driver or team ends up been forced to miss 1-2 races or more I wonder if they should look at going back to dropping 2-3 results in order to ensure nobody is disadvantaged in the championship due to been forced out of events.

        1. Teams aren’t going to pull out if some of them are infected, we’ve been told that already. How many people do you envision contracting the disease, exactly, if you think dropping event results would be necessary?

          Besides, the disease isn’t going away and there’s zero political or economic interest for another lockdown anytime soon. A person receiving a positive diagnosis in any given country, except for a lucky few, is no longer anything extraordinary or out of place, since it’s endemic in most places.

        2. I think this brings with it a huge incentive to both team members as well as teams themselves to try and hide any corona positives @coldfly, @roger-ayles + “Postreader”.

          As you (Postreader) mentions, teams aren’t going to be willing to talk up and step aside when that clearly means they risk losing out in the championship. All the more since their money for the next season will also be heavily impacted by that.

          It can only work if Liberty is willing to pay the team “sickleave” allowances or something for a race missed due to having tested positive. Off course with some provisions to avoid an uncompetative team from rather being “sick” than toiling around at the back.

          1. ColdFly (@)
            3rd June 2020, 9:39

            I think this brings with it a huge incentive to both team members as well as teams themselves to try and hide any corona positives

            Testing is organised by FOM, and I assume there will be health certificates for people otherwise tested, or tests outside the race weekend. @bascb.
            If teams are willing to lie about that they can as well run with illegal PU software ;)

            I do agree that events missed due to coronavirus should not count as missed races and risk the team’s share in the annual profit distribution bonanza (related to minimum participation).

  7. “And just like that it will go away” it’ll be like a miracle and just go away……

    Pretty much no surprise to anyone that F1 thinks it’s beyond caring about anything other than it’s “show”.

    1. Magnus Rubensson (@)
      3rd June 2020, 8:38

      “Show” is the correct word.
      The turning point appears to have been 1998.
      Dieter Rencken wrote an excellent article describing what happened in 1998. That article sure opened my eyes. F1 has been a Show since then.
      Pre 1998, F1 was something else – perhaps one of the three true sports, as described by Ernest Hemingway.

      Re-writing history is popular these days. I shall do my bit by moving 1950 back two years to 1948.
      Counting the Grandes Épreuves (four races in 1948, five in 1949), Wimille becomes the first true Grand Prix driver champion in 1948 and Ascari becomes a well deserved triple champion (1949, 1952 and 1953). The first official F1 series from 1950 only contained six races. It is not unreasonable to count 1948 (four races) and 1949 (five races) as well. Fangio’s 5-title record stands unbroken.

      Grand Prix Formula 1
      First Post-War Series
      50 years
      F1 Grand Prix Show
      Second Post-War Series

      1. Magnus Rubensson (@)
        3rd June 2020, 8:53

        Perhaps 1947-1997 is a more correct time frame.
        There were four Grandes Épreuves in 1947 as well, but the organisation appears to have been a bit more loose.

        Wimille then becomes a double champion, winning two out of four Grand Épreuves in 1947.
        Jacques Villeneuve finishes off the history of “F1 Mark 1” in 1997 and Hakkinen becomes the first champion of the modern “F1 Mark II” series.

        50 years.

  8. It’s a ridiculous decision. Yes, the sports are very important in this period. But they are taking a huge gamble, the risk of which is unaffordable. One positive patient would infect the whole paddock in really short time. Imagine if someone are infected unfortunately, we would have a big chance to lose not only a good employee, but also some great drivers! Just imagine we lose Lewis, Seb, Kimi not for one or two races, but for ever! I really hope everyone be health, I really do. But the risk of losing those names is unacceptable.

  9. I have an opinion
    3rd June 2020, 3:24

    Just as with the 2020 Australian Grand Prix, FOM won’t make the decision to cancel. It will be made for them.

    1. Sure seems like it

  10. Matteo (@m-bagattini)
    3rd June 2020, 8:36

    I understand the rationale behind this. They suspended the season for a long time, cancelled races, lost viewers at events and at home, they’ve made big compromises to restart it. The whole thing already had a giant cost: they can’t afford to start and stop the season every time a positive pops up.

    Also, we all are much more aware of the whole Covid phenomenon now compared to Australia: the virus it’s still invisible, but more manageable. I believe with the right procedures, in macro scale in terms of circuits with closed doors and micro scale in terms of teams crew, the season can be saved. Pretty sure the drivers will just have contact with the bare minimum personnel on and off track. We must not forget that “our” sport is mostly a business, with business driven decisions.

    Carey is not saying they’ll let the the infects die while we enjoy some racing: this would have been the message if race had taken place back in March. Now it’s a different thing, he’s saying that if we want to have F1 back (in a different format this year and hopefully back at normal next year), everyone must take their share of compromises and responsibility.

    The safest alternative would be no race at all for 3-4 months, therefore no 2020 championship at all. This would have huge financial consequences on everyone and an uncertain future for the whole Circus.

  11. F1 is in denial about this decision to begin racing in July. Ex. if one person tests positive and is quarantined, what about the other people that this asymptomatic person has already been in close contact with? One contagious person could infect many others and so on. They haven’t addressed this obvious question. They say they won’t cancel racing if one person tests positive – so just how many will need to test positive before they cancel? The’re afraid to address that because they don’t want to face that question.

    Look, I’d love to see racing begin but they are playing with peoples lives here by starting at this time. I think it’s too early. I guess everyone that participates is agreeing to the risks but employees will tend to go along with it to keep their jobs. It’s up to management to make the responsible decisions.

Comments are closed.