Date published: June 29 2020
Ferrari will isolate Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc’s teams to ensure they don’t have a situation where both record a positive test.
Formula 1 will go racing this weekend at the Red Bull Ring in what is set to be a strange situation, but one that will be the new norm.
Teams are not permitted to interact with one another, the public is banned from the circuits and all paddock members will be regularly tested.
F1 chiefs have made it clear to the teams that should anyone test positive, all the mechanics working on that car, including the driver, will be sidelined until such a time as they have passed a new test.
As that would mean drivers could be forced to skip a session, including qualifying or a grand prix, Ferrari has taken steps to isolate its two drivers’ teams.
Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies told Racer: “So the Formula 1 paddock will be a bubble in such a way that the same restrictions and the same health procedures will be applied to everybody that turns up there.
“But inside the bubble of the Formula 1 paddock you will have each individual bubble for each team, with pretty much no or minimum interactions between a bubble or one team and another.
“So, as we all like and are used to seeing, you will not see people from a team having a casual chat with people from another team. This won’t happen for the coming races because we work under the strict principles of a bubble with really minimal interaction with the other ones.
“Inside a team — so inside the team bubble, which is inside the F1 bubble — we will also do more bubbles. So you will probably have the ‘Car 16 bubble’ and the ‘Car 5 bubble’ and inside them probably engineers and mechanics and so on and so forth.
“Why? In order to be as resilient as possible if there is a positive case, in order to ensure that the number of people that came into contact with that individual is as minimal as possible.”
Mekies, though, conceded that there may come a time when Ferrari is forced to break its own bubbles.
“It is not a regulation, so you are not forced into doing a bubble,” he added.
“You are forced into operating your team as a bubble and the fact that we go and design sub-bubbles inside it is our responsibility. We do it, as we say, to be as resilient as possible in case of a positive case.
“So depending on how we design the bubble, it limits the interactions and contact between the people. We are trying to design it in a way that does not affect our operations.
“If we need to do something and break the sub-bubble to go after an operational need … we can do it, but as a team we will be a bit less resilient in case one of these people would be unfortunately testing positive. It’s a decision that we can take in autonomy.”