Sergio Perez has tested positive for coronavirus ahead of the British Grand Prix and will miss this weekend’s race.
He is the first Formula 1 driver to test positive for coronavirus after the restarted 2020 season began earlier this month in Austria and is self-isolating according to the team.
Formula 1 said in a statement that, as per its track and trace initiative, those who have had recent contact with Perez will also have to be quarantined. The British Grand Prix will go ahead as planned, with Nico Hülkenberg expected to be confirmed as Perez’s replacement at Racing Point.
Perez said that he had returned to Mexico by private plane, between the Hungarian Grand Prix earlier this month and this weekend’s Silverstone round, to visit his mother who had been in hospital after an accident.
“I followed all the instructions from the FIA [and] my team,” said Perez in a video he published on Twitter. “I knew I had a great car underneath me; the team had done a great job, I’m really sad that this has happened.”
Perez said that he had no symptoms and was not sure how he had picked up the virus.
Thank you everyone for your support and stay safe! 🙏 pic.twitter.com/9IjDKMaWy3
— Sergio Pérez (@SChecoPerez) July 31, 2020
Perez did not attend Racing Point’s pre-British Grand Prix press conference on Thursday. It was announced that he had been tested for Covid-19 and the result was inconclusive, so he was isolating himself until the re-test results.
Shortly afterwards, his positive test was confirmed. “Following today’s announcement that Sergio Perez of the BWT Racing Point Formula 1 Team produced an inconclusive test result for COVID-19 at the Silverstone Circuit ahead of the 2020 FIA Formula 1 British Grand Prix, the FIA and Formula 1 can now confirm that the result of his re-test is positive,” F1 said in a statement.
“Perez has 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.
“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.
“The procedures set out by the FIA and Formula 1 have provided for swift containment of an incident that will have no wider impact on this weekend’s event.”
In line with recent government guidelines in the UK, individuals that show symptoms of having the virus now have to remain in quarantine for 10 days rather than seven which means Perez may be forced to miss the following weekend’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, also taking place at Silverstone.
The team said in a statement that the Mexican was in “good spirits” and that it fully intended to compete with two cars in this weekend’s race.
Racing Point currently has Stoffel Vandoorne and Esteban Gutiérrez as test drivers, which are shared with the Mercedes F1 team. Both are also part of the Mercedes Formula E team and are due to race when the electric series’ season restarts next week in Berlin.
“Sergio is physically well and in good spirits, but he will continue to self-isolate under the guidelines of the relevant public health authorities, with safety the ultimate priority for the team and the sport.
“The entire team wishes Sergio well and looks forward to welcoming him back into the cockpit of the RP20 soon.
“Our intention is to race two cars on Sunday. We will communicate the next steps for our British Grand Prix weekend in due course.”
F1 laid out its plans to ensure racing can continue during the pandemic, outlining five major steps it continues to undertake on each race weekend to ensure events go ahead as safely as possible.
Regular testing requires all of those attending the closed-to-the-public races to be tested for the virus both ahead of travel and upon arrival at a circuit.
Teams have been required to limit the numbers of personnel on the ground at races, and those that do travel are encouraged to remain in bubbles and avoid interaction with anyone outside wherever possible.
In Austria, Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc received a warning from the FIA after the former was seen socialising with Christian Horner and Helmut Marko of Red Bull and the latter returned home to Monaco ahead of the Styrian Grand Prix.
Everyone in the paddock is also required to maintain social distancing practices, with driver interviews with media now conducted via conference calls or in the media pen at a much greater distance.