Leclerc warned over Covid-19 protocol breach

2020 Styrian Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc has been warned by the FIA’s Covid-19 delegate after returning to his Monaco home in between last weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix and this weekend’s event.

However Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas has not been warned despite also returning to Monaco during the same time.

Leclerc’s warning is believed to have arisen after pictures surfaced on social media which appeared to indicate he had failed to respect social distancing measures while in Monaco. The image above was posted on the profile of a Nice-based sculptor and artist followed by Leclerc.

Both Ferrari drivers have been warned over their adherence to Covid-19 protocols during the course of F1’s first two ‘Closed Events’, races which are being run with no fans present and minimal staff contain in separate ‘bubbles’ to reduce the risk of spreading any infection. Sebastian Vettel was warned after he was seen talking to members of Red Bull’s team while not wearing a mask.

Ferrari have been told any further breaches will be referred to the stewards of the meeting, who have the power to impose sporting and financial sanctions on teams.

Asked yesterday about his trip to Monaco, Leclerc said “I’ve been tested twice before coming back… both negative, obviously.”

Formula 1 has confirmed 4,566 tests for Covid-19 were conducted on on-site staff between last Friday and yesterday, none of which returned positive results.

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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...
Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...

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17 comments on “Leclerc warned over Covid-19 protocol breach”

  1. I have to say I was a little bemused at a number of points during last weekend’s GP. There was the socially distanced podium ceremony, then the three came together to hug around a “End Racism” t-shirt. I admire the sentiment, but what was the point in the different podium ceremony if they’re going to pose together afterwards; whatever the reason!?

    I feel a little annoyed by it all. Drivers have been at home for the best part of four months and now can’t stomach 2-3 weeks away? The team members aren’t allowed to fly home in between, so why the drivers? It smacks of disrespect and disregard for rules and health. Honestly, as much I like Leclerc (and Bottas), I’d be giving them a ban or serious financial penalty to dissuade anyone doing similar. The rules are in place for a reason.

    1. Me too, did you see on Sky F1 after qualifying? They were interviewing a driver and once he left for some reason the presenter lazily got up to pay the seat with a wipe before Lando came to be interviewed.. as you mentioned a bit confusing the lengths they are going too.. yet also contradicting.. silly.

      Oh then then a few seconds later Zak Brown came over on a phone call and handed his phone to lando to speak on the phone he was just using.

      1. Yep, exactly. Don’t get me wrong, I know how difficult the rules are to follow… we’ve all had someone lean over us in the supermarket for something or had to hold our breath as we pass someone in the street! It’s new and confusing and difficult…

        The problem I have with F1 is that I got the impression that the rules are merely for show. When the cameras are on, everyone is carefully avoiding each other as best they can, but as soon as they’re not being watched or there’s a lapse in concentration they don’t seem to care. I know that they all tested negative last weekend, so in a sense, at that point it shouldn’t matter… but they’re blatantly flouting their own rules.

        1. the rules are merely for show

          that’s summed it up.

      2. Zak Brown will be in the same designated group as Lando. The level of distancing they have to observe between them is different to the distancing required between the McLaren group and the media group, or McLaren and whichever team the previous driver belonged to. You can say it was still an avoidable contact to pass Lando the phone but it’s not supposed to be a level consistent with the seat wiping.

  2. So let me get this straight? Buxton cant even hang out with his fiancee because they’re in different bubbles, but Charles flies back to Monaco and attended parties?
    People would pay big money to stay in the Austrian alps for a week or two! I do like Charles but this is such a spoiled Monegasque brat move…

  3. So FIA has decided that Vettel talking with no mask inside save bubble is worse than Bottas leaving the bubble.
    Very assuring protocol.

    1. Bottas has said that he stayed within his bubble, just at a different location. If this is true then I can’t see what is wrong. Vettel and Leclerc have both been caught speaking with members outside of their bubble without a mask.

      Bottas is not putting anyone else at risk, Vettel and Leclerc are.

      1. Bottas back to Monaco for his girlfriend’s birthday when she was already with him in Austria.

        You can only said its the same bubble if he flight home and back piloting his owned private helicopter, land it directly on his property, fuel it himself, washed all the dishes after party by himself and not meeting a single human other than his girlfriend in the process.

        1. @ruliemaulana
          “Any time that Profile 1 Attendees spend outside the Venue during a Covered Event or between Covered Events (eg at a hotel) must be spent with other members of the same Group, keeping interaction with persons outside that Group to a minimum.”

          Note that there is no requirement in the sporting regulations to stay in Austria. Getting flights etc is probably debatable, but given that Bottas sought clarification first I would imagine that it counted as keeping interactions to a minimum. I see what you’re saying about meeting other people whilst in Monaco but let’s assume that he’s innocent until proven guilty.

          Leclerc, on the other hand, has been photographed mixing with people outside of his own bubble, without a face mask, as has Vettel.

          1. @minnis Getting flights is debatable but chatting the save bubble is a clear violation. Right. Why not give penalty to Zak Brown and Norris for breaching physical distancing regulation by hugging then.

          2. @Ruliemaulana who was getting warned for chatting in the same bubble? Both Leclerc (as evidenced in the picture above) and Vettel (talking to Christian Horner) were talking to people outside of their bubble.

            With Zak Brown and Norris, they are in the same bubble I believe, and as far as I’m aware there is nothing in the sporting regulations about social distancing from people in your own bubble.

          3. Bottas went out for two bike rides along the Cote d’Azur this week, as anyone can see on his Strava profile. Being outside on the bike (alone hopefully) is not a huge risk, but certainly not staying in your bubble I think. Definitely not giving the right message to the world, the fans and his crew who all stayed behind, to say the least.

            I would not have been at all surprised if Leclerc and Bottas would’ve been excluded from this week’s race. Then again, they’re never gonna get a punishment like that.

      2. Besides their F1 Drives ..

  4. Things you can get away with when you have certain manager, eh.

  5. And I thought the Americans had the lock on ignoring Covid19 restrictions because it impacted their “freedom”. At what point do the drivers get a grid penalty for violating the restrictions?

  6. This “governing body” is an absolute farce. While some (many) on-track incidents are definitely open to multiple interpretations, as @ben-n said it smacks of total and utter disregard for the sacrifices made by – and will continually be made by – those who aren’t as privileged as LEC.

    14-day quarantine, at a minimum. That’s a “race ban” w/o being technically a race ban. Send a message. If I were LEC’s mechanic, I would be absolutely apoplectic regarding his selfishness.

    But then again, VET got a slap on the wrist for effectively using his car as a weapon against HAM during Russian GP, so why am I even surprised?

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