Monza, Italy - Nico Rosberg has asked Mercedes for medical advice ahead of the next Grand Prix in Singapore, where the risk of catching the Zika virus is rated ‘very high’ by the Foreign Office.
Rosberg, who won in Italy on Sunday to narrow the gap behind championship leader Lewis Hamilton to two points, is concerned because he and his wife Vivian have recently started a family.
The mosquito-borne virus causes birth defects, notably microcephaly, where babies are born with abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains. Pregnant women have been warned not to travel to Zika-affected countries.
The disease can also be passed on by sexual intercourse, and Greg Rutherford, the Olympic bronze medal long jumper, froze his sperm before travelling to Rio in August.
Rosberg, who has a one-year-old daughter, Alaia, said: “As a family man now, I am very interested and am looking into it. I have started discussions about it already, actually.”
Five of the remaining seven race destinations have recorded instances of Zika. Singapore, Mexico and Brazil are all categorised as ‘high risk’, while Texas and Malaysia have also reported cases. The number of incidents in Singapore has gone from zero to 242 in the past week, with mosquitoes thriving in the humid air.
While there is no sign yet of a mass boycott of the Singapore race on 17 September, the FIA’s doctors have drawn up extensive medical advice to guard against infection.
The teams have also issued their staff with guidelines.
McLaren racing director Eric Boullier said: “We are supplying anti-mosquito products and long-sleeved outfits, and we have sent a briefing to everybody about how to take care and all the why, what and how about it. But everyone is going.”
Zika apart, Rosberg is putting talk of the Drivers’ title to the back of his mind, despite consecutive victories in Spa and Monza.
From being 19 points adrift, he is right on Hamilton’s tail at the end of the European season.
‘I am not thinking about the championship,’ said Rosberg. ‘It’s my best approach, so why would I change it? If I thought about my 43-point lead earlier in the season going to 19 behind I would lose sleep, so I am just enjoying winning races.’
Mercedes, the supreme team of the past three years, were surprisingly off the pace in Singapore last season.
‘We cannot go there with too much confidence because we were miles off last time — 1.8 seconds — and that is huge, so it is our most difficult race,’ added Rosberg, who finished fourth 12 months ago. ‘We think we have made progress but 1.8sec is not going to be easy to improve.’
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