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 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