Sergio Perez, Red Bull, 2021

Being first F1 driver to catch Covid-19 made Perez feel ‘like the most stupid guy”

2021 F1 Season

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Sergio Perez says becoming the first Formula 1 driver to test positive for Covid-19 last year made him feel “stupid”.

Perez tested positive for the coronavirus ahead of the British Grand Prix last July. He was forced to miss two rounds.

Last week Charles Leclerc became the fifth different F1 driver to test positive for the virus since the pandemic began. Others include Perez’s team mate Lance Stroll and Lewis Hamilton, both of whom were also forced to miss rounds of the 2020 season, and Lando Norris.

Being the first driver to test positive was a difficult experience for Perez. “I certainly had a very tough year,” he said.

“With the coronavirus, being the first driver to get [it], now it’s like it’s been made more normal, people get it. But at the time, it was like you are the most stupid guy in there because you got the virus and then it was very harsh for me to to deal with it.”

The timing of his infection, when his future at Racing Point was in doubt, made the circumstances more challenging, Perez added. Although he did lose his place at the team, he was subsequently signed by Red Bull for the 2021 F1 season.

“It was a very critical time as well in my career, because there was the contract thing and in the end I lost the seat with my team,” said Perez. “It worked out really well but you never know. I never knew what was going to happen.”

Perez said he was prepared to accept his F1 career might be over when Racing Point chose to cut short his contract last year.

“When that happened, I was pretty relaxed,” he said. “I thought, well, I’ve had a tremendous career already and I’m pleased with myself, but I just have to give it my all, weekend after weekend and see what happens.

“When the Red Bull opportunity opened up, it was sometimes looking better, sometimes looking worse but then in the end, it worked out. So I think this opportunity only comes once in your life. So I know that and I’m ready to make it work.”

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Author information

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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20 comments on “Being first F1 driver to catch Covid-19 made Perez feel ‘like the most stupid guy””

  1. At one point it really was looking like Perez was out of F1. Quite amazing how it’s turned around for him. I’m struggling to think of another example of a driver being dismissed from a midfield team, only to end up in a top one.

    1. Good question, when I read that I was racking my brains as well to try and think of one, be interested if anyone comes up with one :)

    2. How about Damon Hill? Went from the defunct Brabham team to Williams number 2 in 1993 ( a drive he got ahead of Hakinen (incredibly)) to Williams number 1 the following season

      1. Yes, Hill is a good example actually

        Salo standing in in 1999 at Ferrari (and I think Stewart?) is a semi-example

    3. @alloythere A bit cheeky, but I’m hoping by the end of 2021 we’ll look back at Vettel’s season and see him as another example.

      I can’t really think of any other signings that fit the bill though. Maybe Mansell being dropped from Lotus to Williams is comparable

      1. Yes, Mansell is possibly another example.

        And I agree re Vettel, that would be very interesting to see. He has form in this regard actually- in 2014 he had a duff season, a bit like 2019 (though arguably worse). He then had a stellar 2015. Here’s hoping, as I like Vettel. An intelligent man and driver

      2. As ever with ‘our Nige’ its never straightforward but whilst he was a slow burn, his pace in his last season at Lotus was beginning to tell. Lotus were still a formidable outfit though certainly off their peak so it was really more of a sideways move to my memory but I was a kid and the very anglo-centric coverage meant he was always talked up, even when De Angelis was making mincemeat of him.

  2. Let’s publish every Perez « stupid » quotes.

    1. If it bothers you so bad, just do not read it mate, still you’re here not only reading but posting comments.

      1. Hey « Paul » that’s what the comment section is all about: posting comments.

        Anyway, I shall not post while grumpy on the morning, though.

      2. The same person who posted false (favorable) info about Stroll. I think we have a pattern here.

        1. False or favorable isn’t the same you «J_Olivier»

  3. As regards to the more recent positive cases.
    Catching the disease in the off season is quite ‘convenient’, and made me think of the (fake) Marko Covid Camp stories of last year.

    1. Isn’t the UAE and Singapore I think vaccinating foreigners too? While I don’t think these young folks are at risk, it would make more sense to travel there to get a shot.

  4. Catching covid even if you do everything not to catch is is just unfortunate. I sanitized everything ritually. From myself to the bread (packet) i bought. I had family that said i was being ridiculous. But low and behold i caught it during the first wave. I too felt stupid. Even though i knew it was not my fault.

    1. I wasn’t particularly careful. I did a 7000 mile motorcycle trip across the US. Went on multiple trips. I distanced myself from everyone while on them but I really shouldn’t have gone. I never got it. This winter I took it 100% seriously, hardly ever left the house etc. Ended up catching it from a girl I was seeing. Her son got it from his speech therapist. You just never know when or how you might catch it.

  5. Seems even Perez didn’t really believe in the Red Bull option

    1. @balue Did anyone? I regarded it as a long shot, and only around the Abu Dhabi GP started to view it as a realistic chance.

  6. @jerejj Well certainly not me. I was practically taking bets it would be Marko’s young driver program or nothing, but as we’ve since heard, they wanted Perez’ Mercedes engine knowledge now that they might take over the Honda engine and even do their own after that.

    1. Balue, I have not seen any indication by Red Bull or by Honda that Red Bull continue with the Honda engine but rebranded. Please proof me wrong…
      Also in my opinion Red Bull will never go that route because it is stupidly expensive. I am 90% sure that after Honda, Red Bull will go back to Renault. Of course this is just a guess.

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