Stroll 2nd F1 driver to catch Covid-19

Racing Point driver Lance Stroll putting on a face mask during the Eifel Grand Prix in Nurburgring. He withdrew a day before the Oct 11 race.
Racing Point driver Lance Stroll putting on a face mask during the Eifel Grand Prix in Nurburgring. He withdrew a day before the Oct 11 race.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Lance Stroll yesterday confirmed he had tested positive for Covid-19 after the Eifel Grand Prix weekend, making him the second Formula One driver to be infected this season.

Racing Point teammate Sergio Perez also returned a positive test in August after making a personal trip to Mexico, causing him to subsequently miss both the British Grand Prix and the following 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Canadian Stroll withdrew from the Oct 11 Nurburgring race, with Racing Point boss Otmar Szafnauer then claiming he "could not get off the toilet" to drive.

However, his pullout has turned out to be more serious than a case of an upset stomach, especially as the 21-year-old had already been feeling unwell since the Russian Grand Prix on Sept 27.

The positive diagnosis has led to criticism of governing body FIA's Covid-19 testing protocols, which only require paddock personnel to undergo testing every five days.

However, Eifel race director Michael Masi yesterday defended the measures, insisting no "loophole" had been exposed.

"We don't feel there is any loophole," he told Autosport. "The requirement for Lance, or any other attendee, is that there are various time requirements to test before entering the paddock, and then the follow-up testing from that point.

"Based on the Tuesday test, his next test would have been Sunday morning to fulfil the requirements of the FIA Covid protocol. That's quite simple.

"With regards to Lance feeling ill, it's incumbent upon the driver and Racing Point to determine if they feel the driver is not up to the capacity to drive the car, which they obviously did.

"From the requirements within Appendix S (of the protocol), it's incumbent upon Racing Point as the stakeholder in this case, and Lance himself as an attendee, to declare within the parameters of the protocol if they are having any of those requirements, and then there is the requirement from there to report.

"None of that was reported to the FIA, so there's nothing further from our perspective."

It also appears that Stroll will not be absent from this Sunday's Portuguese Grand Prix after he confirmed he was now in the clear.

"I was tested again on Monday this week and my results were negative," he tweeted yesterday.

"I feel in great shape and I can't wait to be back with the team and to race in Portugal."

The number of spectators at the Algarve International Circuit will be cut following a spike in coronavirus cases in the country.

While an official statement on Tuesday did not state the number of attendees that will be allowed in, organisers said the country's health authorities had ordered a cap on fans.

Earlier this week, Portugal broke the 100,000-case barrier since the onset of the pandemic in March.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2020, with the headline 'Stroll 2nd F1 driver to catch Covid-19'. Print Edition | Subscribe