Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City, Thursday, 2021

Hamilton urges F1 to stay vigilant against Covid: “Most people aren’t taking it seriously”

2021 Mexico City Grand Prix

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F1’s Covid-19 protocols may need to be revised to avoid a rise in infections as countries loosen their pandemic restrictions, says Lewis Hamilton.

The Mercedes driver, who missed last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix after contracting the virus, believes “most people that are not in this sport, most people aren’t taking it seriously.”

Hamilton is 12 points behind championship leader Max Verstappen with five races remaining. For an F1 driver, the implications of being unable to compete due to illness are higher than for some other sportspeople, Hamilton pointed out.

“I’ve seen footballers just recently that didn’t care, I read that they didn’t really put too much focus on it,” he explained. “And if they miss a game, it doesn’t make a huge difference. It’s a bit different here.”

The loosening of some paddock restrictions and an increase in the number of fans attending races may lead F1 to rethink its procedures, said Hamilton. “We’re allowing fans coming in that aren’t tested and also now I think all the photographers are coming in.

“So I know it’s opening it up more, but I anticipate they’ll need to make some changes soon because it’s a tough bubble to keep.”

The Mercedes driver said he is not yet taking additional precautions but is continuing to limit the number of people he comes into contact with and events he attends.

“It’s the same as it has generally been through the year,” he explained. “I’ve been to two events this year. Both have everyone’s vaccinated and everyone’s PCR tested before they go. But even so I try to be keep my distance from everyone when I’m in those those rooms.

Otherwise, his protocols amounted to “trying to keep everyone around me tested consistently” and “keeping the group that’s around me very small.

“It’s only Angela [Cullen, his physiotherapist] and Timmy [McGurr, photographer] that I generally have with me most of the time. And then trying to emphasise to them just how at risk we are in the world still today.”

The pandemic has infected almost a quarter of a billion people worldwide and killed over five million. F1 is in its second of three races in countries which have suffered the greatest recorded losses of life due to Covid-19. The USA has seen 740,000 deaths – the most of any country – Mexico has had 280,000 (fourth-highest) and Brazil, scene of next week’s race, 600,000 (second).

Hamilton’s championship rival Max Verstappen said he isn’t worrying about the risk of being forced to sit out a round due to Covid-19.

“If I slide in the shower and I break my neck it’s the same story, isn’t it? If I go out in Monaco and I slip while walking and I break my leg, I mean, it’s also not great,” said the Red Bull driver.

“So I don’t really think about these things. I just keep on doing and living my life like have been in the last two years already, of course, with Covid.”

In the week leading up to the last round of the championship, the United States Grand Prix, a total of 6,014 tests for Covid-19 were performed of which 12 returned positive results. Six drivers on the grid have tested positive for Covid since the pandemic began last year, of which four had to miss races.

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Notable positive Covid-19 cases in F1

18/03/2020One team memberMcLarenRace subsequently cancelled
30/07/2020Sergio PerezRacing PointMissed British and 70th Anniversary grands prix
08/10/2020Six team membersMercedes
13/10/2020Two team membersRenault
21/10/2020Lawrence StrollRacing Point
21/10/2020Lance StrollRacing PointMissed Eifel Grand Prix
30/10/2020Four team membersRacing Point
11/11/2020Simon RobertsWilliams
16/11/2020Mario IsolaPirelli
26/11/2020Jonathan WheatleyRed Bull
1/12/2020Lewis HamiltonMercedesMissed Sakhir Grand Prix
5/1/2021Lando NorrisMcLaren
13/1/2021Charles LeclercFerrari
25/1/2021Toto WolffMercedes
31/1/2021Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri
11/3/2021Frederic VasseurAlfa Romeo
25/3/2021Two team membersAston Martin
15/7/2021Three team membersMcLarenIncluding McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown
4/9/2021Kimi RaikkonenAlfa RomeoMissed two races
7/10/2021Alan van der Merwe and Dr Ian RobertsMedical Car teamMissed Turkish Grand Prix

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2021 Mexico City 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 motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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27 comments on “Hamilton urges F1 to stay vigilant against Covid: “Most people aren’t taking it seriously””

  1. Max, it isn’t just about you though, it’s not quite like breaking a leg is it? Of course you’ll be fine if you get Covid, you’re a young fit athlete. That’s not really the point, but anyway hey ho.

    1. I think you misunderstood Max he was talking about getting it and he will do the same as the last two years with Covid in mind. But it is the same when you slip and break something you will miss a race atleast and that is nothing what Max could do.
      I though this was going to taken wrong when i saw his comment. It’s a Dutch thing

    2. Economic activity via human contact has been the best immunisation against mass-poverty and mass-premature death known to the human race. The lack of it the last two years has meant 150,000,000 extra people into Extreme Poverty.

      So you can hide yourself forever but then it really does become ‘about you’ rather than the actual people whose livelihoods (and thus access to food and a long life) that have been taken from them. This idea about ‘protecting’ other people is rather questionable. From a utilitarian standpoint, we’ve done nothing of the sort.

      1. 150 million people? Are you referring to tourism, lack of trade, etc.? You could also argue this whole situation has meant less travel which has benefit for all kinds of other reasons.

        Passing on Covid though to others, I think that’s best avoided where possible. We’re not talking state control like China, just being considerate.

        1. @john-h the figures are questionable – the World Bank has suggested that global poverty figures will rise and has projected that the possible worst case scenario would see poverty rates rise to those levels, but at the same time they have put a lot of caveats on the figures because of a lack of reliable data and have also been emphasising that this is a possible worst case prediction, not an actual measured number.

          One of the consequences of the pandemic is that, in a lot of countries, the surveys which normally would have been undertaken have not taken place, and so the data that would usually be used to assess poverty rates is, at best, fragmentary and, at worst, does not exist for at least the past two years.

          The figures being thrown about have to be treated with considerable caution, particularly since, even before the pandemic hit, there were questions about the reliability of the figures – the World Bank also acknowledges that poverty rates in some regions, particularly South East Asia, was already extremely uncertain as some parts of South East Asia haven’t been providing data on poverty rates for a decade.

      2. Nobody seems to be talking about the tens of thousands of people who will fall into poverty following their job loss due to vaccine mandates.
        You could argue it’s “their fault” but isn’t it the left who has been arguing in favor of “my body, my choice” all these years?

        1. If you get the vaccine the mandates don’t affect you and you won’t lose your job. But if you don’t get the vaccine you endanger other people. Anti-vaxxers should grow some balls and get vaccinated.

          1. Leaving aside the political argument which is a pearl in itself, let me clarify this:

            Since the “vaccines” don’t prevent vaccinated people from getting or passing Covid to someone else (they’re more like gene therapy that lessen the effects, than proper vaccination), the whole argument about “think about others” falls completely apart.

            Anyone taking it is just as prone to passing Covid to someone else, as they are from getting it they were in contact exclusively with “vaccinated” people.

            Besides of that, this gene therapy hasn’t been properly tested for medium-term & long-term effects and it’s the people taking it are the test subjects of experimentation.

            Do you think that so many people that have taken proper without issues vaccines in the past but refuse to take the Covid “vaccines”are just stupid or selfish?

            Do you think that if the vaccines were properly tested they would be as rejected as they are?

            That the censorship of prestigious physicians, scientists and such that have been silenced & threatened is nothing to worry about?

            THINK!!! but if you prefer not to, then at least be consequent and go tell the ladies in favor of abortion to grow some balls and have the baby and see how it goes…

          2. Not completely accurate, @KkrodD.
            It isn’t strictly about the virus itself, it’s about the wider effects.

            Unvaccinated people are more likely to die from the virus – thus affecting their family, friends and associates.
            Unvaccinated people are more likely to be hospitalised – thus taking up vital communal healthcare resources.
            Unvaccinated people are more likely to suffer long term health effects, which may not be fully understood for decades to come.
            Further to that, unvaccinated adults are more likely to resist vaccination for their children, creating a culture whereby future vaccinations are also met with scepticism and fear. Despite the evidence that vaccination is almost completely positive in every way…
            But that’s just what the actual universal scientifically accurate evidence says….

            Think, indeed…

        2. Boehoe, cry me a river.
          Anti-vaxxers don’t believe the science of the vaccines, but when they get COVID, then they overwhelm hospitals and all of a sudden they do believe dokters and expect a miracle.
          If they are religious: God already gave them a miracle: the vaccines.
          They should stick to their anti-vax principles and don’t take up precious ICU beds for several weeks.

          And tens of thousands? No, when vaccines are mandated, they fold and take the vaccin.

          1. Please illustrate us. what’s the science of the vaccines? Maybe you know more than those scientists and physicians sounding the alarm about them…

      3. That ‘economic activity’ you praise and the capitalism that drives it is the primary reason that so many are in poverty in the first place, and facing it in the future.
        The inequality of wealth is your problem, not the amount of it.

        I assume then that you give away all the money you are paid but don’t need to survive?

  2. That’s unexpected, I thought after getting vaccinated, already had natural infection and hanging out with celebrities without masked, Lewis would be less worried about covid than Max.

    1. Lewis is much older and noticed he had terrible symptones and had a hard time to get 100% fit. So ofcourse he is worried while Max is also vaccinated but much longer and keep himself from public places but has the Dutch spirit if he gets it he can’t do anything about it.

  3. I noticed that when they were doing the basketball cross promotion thing that almost every driver wasn’t wearing a mask, except for Max.

    Lewis wasn’t there are all fwiw.

    1. I believe Max couldn’t care less about COVID if it wasn’t for the title.

  4. I think Lewis should be giving 100% focus on how he’s going to win 4 out of the next 5 races or prevent Max getting in the top two and leave all the patronising lecturing about something, that is now a bad flu, to others.

  5. Seems a bit ironic that Lewis, for the first 3 or 4 months of the pandemic restrictions, wore a mask with an exhalation valve. Even wore it upside down on occasion.

    1. He is also one of the few drivers who actually caught COVID so yeah definitely a bit strange

  6. Here comes the hero of the “forgotten causes” yet again. When it’s not Seb it’s Lewis.

    1. Not really forgotten as they’re everywhere.

      And a about Seb at least it’s about reasonable civic action, that people can do by themselves.

  7. Thank god Lewis keeps as few people around him as possible, only the essentials like.. *checks notes* .. a photographer

    1. I smiled when I read that as well @cduk_mugello

      It does say something about the man doesn’t it :)

      1. And all the people in the MET Gala of course, they’re really essential…

  8. By no means a lewis hater but ngl i’m surprised he’s still so vocal about this when in reality he’s probably at more parties/events than most other drivers, i know he said he’s been to 2 events recentley but i swear i could name 10 events between austin & now he’s been to both fashion, sponsors etc & those are just the public ones he’s posted/we know about. If I Lewis I’d keep quiet cause catching covid again would be insasley embarrasing when he talks like this & socialises the way he does. Although he deffo does wear a mask when at many of these events & is 100% the odd one out when no one else there does wear a mask, a mask really isn’t the holy grail, the risk is beter avoided by not going at all, they often remove masks for pics/close convo’s anyway which defeats the purpose. Lewis needs to be more careful than Max who might no even care

    1. Rules for thee not for me. He would make an excellent politician.

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