Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Red Bull Ring, 2020

Bottas and Leclerc say their home visits between races were not safety risks

2020 F1 season

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Valtteri Bottas and Charles Leclerc explained their decisions to return home in between Formula 1’s two consecutive races at the Red Bull Ring.

Teams members, including drivers, are required to stay in designated ‘bubbles’ in order to minimise potential exposure to the virus and risk of bringing it into the paddock. Bottas said he sought approval before returning home to Monaco with his partner, who was with him at the track last week.

“Obviously I found out if it’s allowed, to go back, and yes, it is,” said Bottas. “And of course it doesn’t really make a difference if I stay with the same people in the same bubble whether I’m here or back home in Monaco.

“So I decided to go back home as, in the end, we are in Europe and travelling is pretty short distance so there’s no stress really from the travel.

“I just wanted to spend those three full days at home. I thought it was very nice to recharge for the weekend, so I think it was a good decision from my side. I just tend to do things that what works for me, how I feel, what I want to do between the races.

“From a safety point of view there is no difference at all. Still the same people that I will be dealing with here.”

Leclerc, who also returned home between races, said he took extra Covid-19 tests to prove he had not transmitted any infection.

“I did [go] back home,” he said. “On the other hand, I’ve been tested twice before coming back. So in two days, testing twice, both negative obviously. That’s it. I went back home for two days and then did two tests to be sure of the results.”

Both drivers’ team mates remained in Austria since Sunday’s race. “I stayed in the bubble,” said Sebastian Vettel. “I love the mountains, I love Austria, I love this place.

“For the first time in quite a while I had the opportunity to climb some of the mountains around that I’ve always seen from the car so I did that on Monday also yesterday. So I enjoyed the time outside and went cycling as well.”

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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...

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24 comments on “Bottas and Leclerc say their home visits between races were not safety risks”

  1. ColdFly (@)
    9th July 2020, 17:29

    TBH I think this is a farce.
    Equality means that the same rules should apply to all 800+ staff of the teams. I doubt they were allowed to bring their better halves or travel home if merely promising to stay within ‘their bubble’ (which is firstly extremely difficult, e.g. airport staff, and secondly non-controllable).

  2. They shouldn’t have let them home. At least not the first two races after long holiday because of the pandemic.

    They making a fuss about Ferrari & RedBull chatting without mask. They make Jenson hesitated to hug Lando. And they let this two drivers flight home and back?

    1. Agree.
      Obviously, someone is more equal than others in F1, too.

  3. …said he took extra Covid-19 tests to prove he had not transmitted any infection.

    I can sympathise that being stuck in a room or hotel for nearly two weeks isn’t as exciting as going to visit one’s house in the nearby town, but the whole point of being in a bubble is prevent minimise the chances of anyone getting infected. When you leave and return you threaten the whole of the forthcoming Grand Prix. There’s a reason why most countries mandate a 14 day quarantine for people arriving by aeroplane, and that is because the virus doesn’t show up immediately you are infected, so taking a test and then texting the result to all and sundry doesn’t prove a thing. If you really feel the need to go then go, but don’t come back. So no, neither Valtteri or Charles should have been allowed back, and neither should be driving at the forthcoming GP, the reserve drivers should be roped in to do that.

  4. It was an individual decision for both, but I wouldn’t do this type of back-and-forth travelling, though, (unless I had to) even within the same continent. Better to stay in the same place to minimize unnecessary extra travelling, but each to their own.

    1. No, it’s really not ‘each to their own’. That fundamentally misunderstands the entire purpose of these measures.

      The bubble isn’t designed to protect Leclerc, and he likely put himself at very minimal risk by breaking it. It’s designed to protect everyone; if he gets COVID-19 in Monaco and brings it back, it would spread like wildfire and threaten the entire operation.

      Just like wearing a mask, this isn’t about individual risk — and therefore violating it can’t be excused by taking personal responsibility for your own risk.

      1. @exediron very good point. None of these measures are about individual risk @jerejj missed the point there. Bottas and leclerc claim to have stayed in the bubble but they’ve both ensured that no one can guarantee it and also increased the risk of inadvertent transmission. No travel is risk free, no activity is. Perhaps the term bubble is misleading – it’s not designed to be a hermetically sealed area, it’s about risk reduction. We know the tests are fallible (again they are risk reduction tools, not cast iron guarantees) so leclerc’s behaviour is just as bad.

        As an aside, I like the idea of vettel going off for a walk in the mountains. It sounds like he’s at peace with himself and enjoying a little holiday.

      2. @exediron @frood19 No, I didn’t miss the point. My point was solely about not doing something like this myself, but that it’s their choice if they want to do it or not. I couldn’t care less about the bubble-thing in this context. COVID or no COVID, I don’t really see the point in this type of back-and-forth travelling as it just brings in unnecessary extra travel, but it’s their problem, not mine, LOL.

        1. @jerejj that is exactly the point you are missing. it is not and should not be their choice. their actions affect others (they could very well be carriers of the virus, show no symptoms and provide negative tests) – their personal liberties (whatever that means) ought to be secondary, because by potentially spreading the disease, they are more than impinging on the “personal liberties” of others i.e. by infecting them. their actions are intrinsically selfish.

          The western world has dealt poorly with this pandemic because it cherishes personal freedoms – countries whose citizens do not have such freedoms seem to be dealing with it better. i guess it’s one of the few advantages (the only advantage perhaps) of living in an authoritarian state.

          1. @frood19 Again, I’m not missing the point. It’s you who are missing my point, LOL.

        2. @jerejj … If you’re not missing the point, why not address it directly so we can see what you think.

          Here’s an example: let’s say you choose to stay put, to minimise travelling, but your friend or compatriot or whatever, goes off somewhere, contracts the virus on the flight home, then passes a potentially deadly disease on to you.

          Still think that’s nothing to do with you and not your problem?


          1. @effwon Whatever. I thought I was very clear with what I meant, but no point to try anymore if people don’t want to interpret it correctly, LOL.

          2. @jerejj Troll. Couldn’t even answer a straightforward question.

            Three strikes and you’re out, mate.


  5. David (@davidjwest)
    9th July 2020, 20:29

    It’s a non-issue, they will be tested before the race weekend and if positive then they will have to self-isolate and miss the race.

    1. @davidjwest The thing with these tests is that you can be carrying the virus & still test negative.

      There are cases of people having tested negative who became ill the next day & were found to have been carrying the virus (And infecting people) for upto 2 weeks before falling ill themselves. I believe that is in part where the 14 day quarantine/self isolation guideline figures came from.

      1. David (@davidjwest)
        9th July 2020, 23:22

        This is true but you can never be 100% safe with this virus, we either race with precautions or we don’t.

        I had tickets for last week’s race, a treat for my 50th birthday, so I am rather miffed, but at least I have my health and I haven’t suffered any bereavements so far.

    2. If the two drivers informed their teams and sought permission to return home as the provisions allowed, then I don’t see why this is an issue at all.

      Obviously, the people who wrote these operational norms have a much better idea of what exposes their key men and other personnel, and what does not. They may not be medical experts, but they’re certainly more well informed than the armchair district medical officers we have on this website.

      Both Bottas and Leclerc say that they stayed within their social “bubbles” and will undergo timely COVID tests before and after returning to Austria. They are also likely to have contact tracing apps that most governments have mandated for both domestic and international travel, and are acting completely transparent with both their teams and the media.

      Honestly, the commentators here act like they’ve been institutionalized in an F1 quarantine center and have staged a prison break to go back home.

    3. It takes 5 days for symptoms to show up and test positive . Until then you could still pass the virus on while testing negative . Bottas and Leclerc in particular need to be put into quarantine immediately if F1 is serious about COVID 19 .

  6. They just popped the bubble. I sort of expected the “F1 Community” to take this more seriously.

    1. Exactly right! This is more or less the problem F1 had at Melbourne, they thought they were immune to the virus. Those two shouldn’t have been let back in. What are Ferrari’s and Mercedes’s plans if someone tests positive in their garage? F1 sends a vast amount on getting everyone tested, having bubbles, social distancing, etc, and then two petulants believe they are special. I think they should be relieved from driving duties for this Grand Prix. If the team doesn’t have a relief driver then so be it.

  7. Just bizarre. To set in place an extremely tight set of regulations and then have an option for a driver to return home?

    How many other “loopholes” have they left that could potentially expose the operation, and the country they are in to the virus.

    As much as l like both drivers, they should be quarantined for 14 days along with any individuals they have been in close contact with since returning.

  8. “I just wanted to spend those three full days at home. I thought it was very nice to recharge for the weekend, so I think it was a good decision from my side. I just tend to do things that what works for me, how I feel, what I want to do between the races.”

    How nice. The world has gone to ^&*! over this, F1 is just barely functioning, but you just do what you want to do eh Bottas?

    Going from one bubble to another bubble certainly minimises the risks yes. But what of the people you went home to? Have they left the home?

    Did the mechanics get chance to go home for snuggles? I know as the driver, their job is to drive, not set up the garage, put the car together etc. I know the mechanics and all the team have their job and and that isn’t to party with the driver. But you would have thought in these circumstances you might just give a crap a little more, that not everyone can just pop home in a time like this!

  9. F1 Supporter
    10th July 2020, 16:00

    This is disgraceful.

    F1 should step up and make an example of Bottas and Lerclerc.

    Rules are in place for a reason.

    New cases are still increasing and no one is immune.

    The door has now been left open for others to abuse. You can’t reprimand anyone else now who ignores this rule after these two have walked away without any penalty.

Comments are closed.