“You should know how they are going”- Alfa Romeo on Formula 1 drivers being diagnosed positive of COVID-19 even during the off-season.
COVID-19 was the biggest adversary to Formula 1 in 2020, and even in the second month of 2021, the virus is not reducing any number of problems for the authorities.
Even recently Charles Leclerc and Pierre Gasly were diagnosed positive of COVID-19, which brings in attention to Alfa Romeo sporting director Ben Zehnder’s comments that only “common sense” can prevail.
No mask, and just hanging out in Dubai. Pierre Gasly on holiday. “Hope you’re all staying safe, guys” #F1
Pics: Momo Khaliss at the Five Palms Jumeirah. pic.twitter.com/elkx1QoxyO
— Thomas Maher (@thomasmaheronf1) January 17, 2021
Speaking to Auto Motor und Sport about the measures Alfa Romeo took last year with Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi, he said: “The greatest risk was always after the free weekends, whether with the driver or any other team member.
“We didn’t have any control over people, and we didn’t want to. So I appealed to everyone’s common sense and responsibility that they don’t do nonsense, don’t go to bars or regulars.”
“Nobody can be forbidden from meeting family members or close friends, but you should know how they are going. The drivers were instructed immediately.”
“Everyone really behaved in an exemplary manner. We only had one case after the weekend off.” However, even with the best protocols in place, Alfa Romeo had 12 positives amongst its staff last year.
“I think it was five [at the factory],” he said. “We had seven on the racing team—four to Sochi alone. Several teams were hit there. Evidently, the interpreter of the catering supplier infected people across teams.”
Unknown sources and false alarms added to the problem.
Zehnder told that his team suffered from COVID-19, but keeping up with the source of spread and not to forget false diagnosis added on to the present problems.
“In Portugal, we had a case out of nowhere in the hospitality team. Despite the exact follow-up of the case, we still do not know where the colleague was infected. He was always with the group.”
“Maybe it happened on the long way in the truck from the Nürburgring to Portugal, when refuelling or eating. But an exact follow-up was not possible.”
“One tested positive twice in Imola. It was proven to be a false alarm. We tested him at home every day for the following four days, and he was always negative.
“We still had one case in Bahrain between the two races. And just one after a race-free weekend. I’m proud of how disciplined everyone was. It’s not easy to live in a bubble for so long. You also want to let off steam.”