Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Paul Ricard, 2022

Verstappen concerned rise in Covid cases could lead to drivers missing races

2022 French Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen says it would be “very sad” if any F1 drivers are forced to miss races in the second half of the 2022 season.

The championship leader holds a 38-point advantage over Charles Leclerc in the drivers’ standings with 11 races remaining.

Over two years since the pandemic began, drivers are continuing to miss races if they contract Covid-19. Sebastian Vettel did not compete in the opening two rounds of the season after testing positive. Jake Hughes will be absent from both this weekend and next weekend’s Formula 2 rounds for the same reason.

With Covid cases increasing across Europe and the United Kingdom, some drivers and team personnel are choosing to wear masks around the paddock once again. Verstappen says he hopes no drivers will miss out on races due to the growth in infection rates.

“Of course we are all opening up, but sometimes it seems like people forget that it’s still around,” Verstappen said. “It will be very sad if drivers have to miss again races because of it.”

Verstappen it not among the 10 F1 drivers who are known to have tested positive for the virus as part of regular testing in the championship over the two-and-a-half seasons since Covid was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. However his Red Bull team mate, Sergio Perez, was the first driver to miss races when he tested positive early in the 2020 season, while he was driving for Racing Point.

Asked if he would consider wearing a mask in the paddock, Verstappen indicated he would continue to trust in the FIA’s guidelines which are set in accordance with local rules set by each nation’s governments.

“Of course everyone has their own preferences and how they want to do it,” said Verstappen. “But I think it’s not only that.

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“If you stay somewhere for like five to ten minutes, it’s not too bad. But if you really start to be in closed-off areas with people who are not testing any more, it’s a bit of a different story as well.

“Of course these are things that can be looked at. But also I think, in general, the FIA is following the local authorities.”

Verstappen confirmed in March last year he had been vaccinated against Covid-19.

Covid-19 cases among F1 drivers:

30/07/2020Sergio PerezRacing PointMissed 2020 British and 70th Anniversary grands prix
21/10/2020Lance StrollRacing PointMissed 2020 Eifel Grand Prix
1/12/2020Lewis HamiltonMercedesMissed 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix
5/1/2021Lando NorrisMcLaren
13/1/2021Charles LeclercFerrari
31/1/2021Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri
4/9/2021Kimi RaikkonenAlfa RomeoMissed 2021 Dutch and Italian grands prix
12/12/2021Nikita MazepinHaasMissed 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
11/03/2022Daniel RicciardoMcLarenMissed second 2022 pre-season test in Bahrain
17/02/2021Sebastian VettelAston MartinMissed 2022 Bahrain and Saudi Arabian grands prix

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2022 French Grand Prix

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    Will Wood
    Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...
    Claire Cottingham
    Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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    6 comments on “Verstappen concerned rise in Covid cases could lead to drivers missing races”

    1. Leclerct took it twice, the second time in december 2021/january 2022. Also Lewis says that he’ve done it twice, probably also him during 2022 winter pause

    2. I’m not overly worried, but of course, unideal if either championship contender faced a forced withdrawal from even a single race.

      1. It would be most ‘convenient’ if either of them (VER and/or LEC) would catch it early during the summer break ;)

        note: before the availability of vaccinations I would not make such a joke (or is it?), but now the risk and inconvenience for a vaccinated person is typically not more than when catching a cold.
        And it’s too late to fully eradicate the disease.

    3. Considering its now very mild to nonexistent for basically 99.99% of reasonably healthy people then let them race. Drivers have raced with colds and even the flu in the past!

      Just have them wear a mask to and from the car if they are ‘infected’

    4. Had this discussion with a co-worker the other day. Previously, people contracting Covid had a pretty big chance of getting seriously ill. Case in point is Hamilton. However, it seems like for a while now the severity of the ilness tends to be less. Don’t get me wrong: you CAN still get seriously ill, but chances on that happening seem much less than in the earlier stages (the original strain I guess?).

      Regardless, the discussion was around the question whether or not drivers had to be forced to not partake if found positive. Previously, drivers had to isolate and therefor miss the weekend. But what if you’re not having any health problems? Doesn’t it then just become a matter of whether the team wants a driver to race?

      I recall Coulthard once vomiting in his helmet after eating something bad and Gasly having a terrible case of the ‘runs’ in Brazil (or Mexico) a few years ago. From a safety point of view (and sanitation), I can see that being a bigger problem than not having any issues at all.

      Then of course the question has to be asked whether or not being positive and being around others endangers those. Which is fair, but if those people are vaccinated, it’s basically the same as going to the local (crowded) supermarket. Any of the people there can be positive, cough in my face and transmit something.

      I’m all for vaccinating against it, but I do generally feel that at some point it should be up to the drivers/teams to decide whether someone is fit to race.

    5. “For sure” – Felipe Massa
      “Obviously” – Daniel Ricciardo
      “Naturally” – Lewis Hamilton
      “Of course” – Max Verstappen

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