Concerns about Covid-19 testing protocols in F1 after Strolls test postive
LONDON - Racing Point defended their actions after it emerged that Canadian Formula One driver Lance Stroll and team-owner father, Lawrence, tested positive for Covid-19 following this month's Eifel Grand Prix.
Stroll junior, who left the Nuerburgring before the October 11 race after flu-like symptoms and an upset stomach, said on social media he was now clear and ready to compete in Portugal this weekend.
A team spokesman said Lawrence, who is executive chairman of British sportscar maker Aston Martin, also tested positive at home on the day of the race, but was back at work after isolating.
Stroll senior did not attend the Eifel Grand Prix or the race in Russia before that.
The team said Lance Stroll took a test on the Sunday after flying home to Switzerland from Germany by private jet. Tests ahead of the race weekend were negative and the team said at the time he was not showing 'classic Covid-19 symptoms'.
The situation raised concerns about transparency at the team and the Covid-testing protocols but Racing Point boss Otmar Szafnauer said in a statement they had acted according to guidance.
"He (Lance Stroll) consulted with a doctor who did not believe his symptoms indicated Covid-19 and did not advise a test was necessary," said the American.
"Based on this clinical assessment, at the time there was no requirement to inform the FIA as to the nature of the illness."
Szafnauer said at the time that the driver had felt unwell since the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi on Sept. 27.
The only other Formula One driver to date to contract the virus is Stroll's Mexican teammate Sergio Perez, who missed two races in August after a trip home to see his mother.
Szafnauer said the team had a policy of testing all members on their return from a race. Stroll had tested negative last Monday and would travel to Portimao, he added.
All other members of the team had tested negative on their return to England and pre-event tests for this weekend.
"I feel in great shape and I can't wait to be back with the team and to race in Portugal," said Lance Stroll.
Formula One teams are operating in 'bubbles within bubbles', isolated from each other and separated internally to limit the risk of contagion.
The protocol has been tightened ahead of Portugal with nobody allowed into the paddock without producing a negative test result on site.
Champions Mercedes, who have Lewis Hamilton heading for a seventh world championship, reported two positive cases at the Nuerburgring with six replacements flown in from England.
Sunday's race at the Algarve circuit will be the 12th round of the season and the first Portuguese Grand Prix in 24 years. It was added to the calendar after some other races were cancelled due to the pandemic.
The season-opener in Australia in March was cancelled after a McLaren employee tested positive for Covid-19, with the championship then stalled until July.