Lewis Hamilton, Valttteri Bottas, Mercedes, Nurburgring, 2020

Hamilton and Bottas need to ‘live like hermits’ to avoid Covid – Wolff

2020 Eifel Grand Prix

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says constant testing and extreme distancing protocols for his two drivers are “really critical” for their championship hopes, following two Covid-19 cases among their staff.

Mercedes confirmed yesterday one team member had tested positive for the coronavirus, who had been isolated. Today, following further tests for the whole team, they announced six more team members had been isolated, one of which had tested positive.

Wolff said the infected team members had previously tested negative earlier this week.

“We are testing constantly back in Brackley,” he said. “Everybody tested between Monday and Wednesday, and there was not a single positive case.

“Then when we arrived we did a second test and one person was tested positive and was obviously quarantined. And everybody around him that was in the car or worked with him, also got quarantined and they had a second test now that is negative.

“Then we had a second positive test and also everybody who was around him was was put in quarantine.”

Mercedes have had to call on back-up team members for this weekend’s race. “We flew six people in yesterday from the UK and they were all tested,” said Wolff.

“It’s certainly not a not a good situation because every person is very important. But I guess this is something that’s going to follow us for quite a while.”

All F1 staff are tested for Covid-19 before travelling to and at each event, with temperature checks being taken daily to permit circuit access and teams required to remain in strict bubbles which prevent staff and media or between F1 and its support series intermingling.

Wolff said Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, who are leading the drivers championship standings, had to live “like a hermit” to avoid the risk of infection.

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“Obviously, the drivers are the most restricted of the whole team,” he said. “It’s certainly not a great situation for them because you almost need to live like a hermit and that’s what they doing.”

“They are [staying] at home. They are not going out for dinners. They are not meeting any other people within the team that we do.”

Mercedes are even limiting contact between the drivers and their engineers, conducting debriefs remotely, Wolff said.

“The debriefs are via Zoom or Microsoft Teams, they’re not sitting with the engineers in the room – they’re sitting in their own rooms.”

“We are avoiding as much as possible any personal contact with them individually, we tried to do it as – literally – stepping into the car and driving the car, keeping the safe distance whilst we belt them in and and then drive.”

He said it is essential to Mercedes’ championship hopes that their drivers are protected from exposure.

“That is really critical for the championship, if you miss a race or two,” he said. “So unfortunately for them, they need to live a life that is a bit secluded. But we think what the decisions we’ve taken are good and protect them.”

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2020 Eifel Grand Prix

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Author information

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...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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21 comments on “Hamilton and Bottas need to ‘live like hermits’ to avoid Covid – Wolff”

  1. Perhaps if Lewis and Valtteri wrap up first and second in the championship (and the constructors) early they can take the rest of the year off, and Merc can put George Russell and Stoffel Vandoorne in the cars (or some of their other reserve / junior drivers) for the craic.

    1. AllTheCoolNamesWereTaken
      9th October 2020, 16:52

      That would be a brilliant idea, StephenH. Even better, once Lewis has won the title (which we all know he will), they could maybe do a straight swap between him and George Russell: Put George in the Merc and Lewis in the Williams for however many races are left at that point. I’m sure Williams could use the publicity, and I’d love to see what Lewis can do in a decidedly not-great car. I think I might actually find myself rooting for him to drag it into the points.

      Do I think it’s going to happen? No. But, again, I’d genuinely like to see it.

  2. Great idea, The Swap, but somehow I expect that both Hamilton and Bottas have terms in their contract tied to the number of points they earn in the season.
    It would be an awesome PR stunt and would be worth major publicity to Merc. But then again, what if the two Merc cars continued to finish 1 and 2.
    On another matter, the mask that Lewis clearly prefers is the type with an exhaltion valve. Not the best and usually only certified for dust.
    One could also wonder if he really knows how this is supposed to work. In most pics he has the valve on the right side and others it is on the left. Does this mean he has the mask on upside down.?
    Maybe he should get Johnny Herbert to show him how to wear one … or not.

    1. The valved mask type offers the same protection for the wearer as any other but as it has the valve for exhalation wouldn’t protect others from the wearer as much

      But given the frequency of testing, and distancing measures in place for drivers, I doubt they pose much if any risk to others

  3. So, doing what most people do for pretty much their whole working week? How admirable.

    1. Yes just the same…if most people go home to an empty hotel room, don’t have any family, don’t see friends or go for dinner, don’t go to the supermarket to buy food, don’t do anything in the form of socialising for 30 or so weeks of the year. Just the same.

      1. You mean exactly like responsible people have been handling this (replace hotel room with apartment)?

    2. You and so many others here are always so critical of everything they say. Perhaps you’d be happier if they never said anything to the media. Or, better yet, you found other articles to read.

  4. Toto Wolff is too be admired for the effort he and his team have gone to protect all as well as can be done. Deniers who are given every chance to survive but instead act stupid, deserve the wrath of Covid just like the potus. Reacting to avoid this is better than doing nothing like the potus and his minions are doing.

    1. “Toto Wolff is too be admired for the effort he and his team have gone to protect all as well as can be done.”

      Really? Seven crew members tested positive and he should be admired for doing all he can?
      To the neutral observer it seems like he is actually doing the worst job of all the team bosses.
      (and one might actually call Mercedes the White House of the paddock as we speak)

      1. EXACTLY as I wrote it Oconjob. Quit shaping the story to fit your example of success.

        1. I decided to reread the article and must say Oco I am wrong. I somehow lost that part of the story of this current MercedesTeam.
          Their success overall had hypnotized me in believing they are the Best successful team racing in
          Formula Ones history. Especially when you consider all that it takes to win like they do because Toto Wolff has built the ideal team until tonight. They have failed themselves by acknowledgement of the seven who suffer from covid. Sorry obo that my facts were skewed

      2. Josh (@canadianjosh)
        10th October 2020, 2:53

        Worst job of all team bosses? He’s the boss of Mercedes F1, not a 24 hour babysitter of every employee who works for the team.

    2. a virus so deadly you have to get tested to know if you have it. take your politics elsewhere

      1. a virus so deadly you have to get tested to know if you have it.

        The mental gymnastics of you people are astonishing.

  5. This is sounds great but I’m curious how Bottas was allowed to test an off road truck when he’s meant to be limiting his travel and exposure to people…not blaming him at all but seems completely irresponsible of him to go and for Merc to allow it

  6. Right, getting Covid could decide the championship. Lewis has now almost a 2 race lead, but loosing 50 points due to illness, would be a serious blow.

  7. The pic accompanying the article is very telling.

  8. All the best to the team. I wish them no ill will.
    Having said that:
    I think it is inevitable that the drivers will come into contact with someone infected. I think Mercedes might unknowingly have a spreader on the team, and I doubt that they’ll be able to keep their drivers uninfected.

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