Perez misses Bri­tish GP af­ter pos­i­tive Covid-19 test

Rac­ing Point’s Mex­i­can driver has to en­ter self-quar­an­tine Hamil­ton tells ri­vals he could carry on for ‘two or three years’

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sports Newspaper Of The Year - By Tom Cary at Sil­ver­stone

The Bri­tish Grand Prix at Sil­ver­stone this week­end will go ahead de­spite Ser­gio Perez be­com­ing the first F1 driver to test pos­i­tive for Covid-19. Perez (right), the Mex­i­can who drives for the Rac­ing Point team, is in quar­an­tine and is likely to be re­placed by Nico Hulken­berg. The FIA, F1’s gov­ern­ing body, said: “A full track-and-trace ini­tia­tive has been un­der­taken and all close con­tacts have been quar­an­tined.” Their state­ment added that the in­ci­dent “will have no wider im­pact on this week­end’s event”.

Formula One was grap­pling with its first pos­i­tive Covid-19 test in­volv­ing a driver last night as Ser­gio Perez was ruled out of this week­end’s Bri­tish Grand Prix.

The Mex­i­can, who drives for Rac­ing Point, ini­tially re­turned an “in­con­clu­sive” test, forc­ing him to skip yes­ter­day’s me­dia du­ties as he un­der­went a retest. It was con­firmed last night that the re­sult of that sec­ond test was pos­i­tive.

Un­like the pos­i­tive in­volv­ing a McLaren team mem­ber in Mel­bourne in March, which forced F1 to aban­don its open­ing race week­end en­tirely, the pro­to­cols now are far tighter and Perez’s pos­i­tive is un­likely to have a huge knock-on ef­fect.

A state­ment from the FIA, F1’s gov­ern­ing body, said that Perez (right) had “en­tered self-quar­an­tine in ac­cor­dance with the in­struc­tions of the rel­e­vant public health au­thor­i­ties, and will con­tinue to fol­low the pro­ce­dure man­dated by those au­thor­i­ties”.

The state­ment added: “With as­sis­tance of the lo­cal or­gan­iser of the Bri­tish Grand Prix, lo­cal health au­thor­i­ties and the FIA Covid-19 del­e­gate, a full track-and-trace ini­tia­tive has been un­der­taken and all close con­tacts have been quar­an­tined.” F1 has adopted a strict Covid-19 pri­vate test­ing pro­ce­dure since re­sum­ing in Aus­tria this month. More than 15,000 tests were car­ried out from June 26 to July 23. Up un­til yes­ter­day there were only two pos­i­tive re­sults, nei­ther in­volv­ing frontline F1 per­son­nel.

It is not yet clear who will take Perez’s race seat. Rac­ing Point’s re­serve driv­ers are Este­ban Gu­tier­rez and Stof­fel Van­doorne, the test driv­ers on the books of engine sup­pli­ers Mercedes. Mean­while, Lewis Hamil­ton has fired a warn­ing to his ri­vals, say­ing he plans to race on for “at least an­other two or three years” as he seeks to be­come the most suc­cess­ful driver in F1 his­tory. Hamil­ton, 35, is short odds to win a sev­enth crown, an achieve­ment that would draw him level with Michael Schu­macher in the all­time stand­ings. The Mercedes driver has won two of the first three races of the sea­son, which only got go­ing af­ter a four-month de­lay. He leads the driv­ers’ stand­ings by five points from team-mate Valt­teri Bot­tas and spoke yes­ter­day about try­ing to win ev­ery race this sea­son – and be­yond.

“In terms of how long I’ll go, that’s a bit of an un­known,” said Hamil­ton, who is out of con­tract at the end of this sea­son. “The Covid lock­down, while it was a neg­a­tive in many ways, in some ways it gave a lot of life, a lot of en­ergy, to fo­cus on some other things. That time off was a bit of breath­ing space, a bit of en­ergy to per­haps go longer. Also, we’re in a pe­riod of time where there is not an­other driver from my back­ground com­ing through and I’m con­scious of that as well. My goal is to con­tinue to de­liver for as long as I can, so I see my­self go­ing at least an­other two or three years.”

Hamil­ton’s ob­ser­va­tion re­gard­ing the lack of black driv­ers com­ing through was no sur­prise. He has emerged as a strong and elo­quent states­man on the is­sue of racism, and has forced F1 as a whole to take a proper look at it­self.

Haas driver Ro­main Gros­jean, who is one of the di­rec­tors of the GPDA, the F1 driv­ers’ union, said yes­ter­day that he had been “wrong” to speak up for driv­ers who did not want to “carry on” with the an­tiracism dis­play that was held be­fore the first race in Aus­tria and had apol­o­gised to Hamil­ton per­son­ally dur­ing a 45-minute phone call.

“It’s not easy for any­body to ad­mit they’re wrong, so I re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate that from Ro­main,” Hamil­ton said. “That’s re­ally what it is go­ing to take from all of us; open up our minds, don’t put bar­ri­ers up, don’t be de­fen­sive, be open-minded.”

Six driv­ers, in­clud­ing Charles Le­clerc (Fer­rari) and Max Ver­stap­pen (Red Bull), de­clined to take a knee in Aus­tria and it ap­pears that will con­tinue this week­end, with all driv­ers wear­ing anti-racism Tshirts but some not kneel­ing due to un­ease about the Black Lives Mat­ters move­ment’s pol­i­tics.

“Ev­ery­body has their own way of ex­press­ing it, but we are united in fight­ing racism,” Ver­stap­pen said.

Check­mate: Lewis Hamil­ton looks to the fu­ture, while (above) Se­bas­tian Vet­tel walks the cir­cuit with his Fer­rari team

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