Lewis Hamilton has insisted there can be no relaxation of precautions against Covid-19 after one of his Mercedes team tested positive before this weekend’s Eifel Grand Prix at the Nürburgring. The world champion admitted the loss of the team member is detrimental to them but was confident they would overcome any difficulties.
Mercedes announced on Thursday that one of the team had tested positive, the first such result they had returned this season. The team member was not identified but Mercedes stressed that they were dealing with the situation according to F1 and FIA protocols. To date F1 has conducted 50,000 tests returning 26 positive results. None have affected a race meeting going ahead and the sport remains confident it could continue to operate a race weekend even if multiple cases were identified.
Hamilton expressed his concern for his colleague while noting that it was a wake-up call, with cases of Covid-19 rising.
“Naturally it is sad to hear that for the guys that work so hard,” he said. “They work so hard to stay safe and to be here at the weekend so it is definitely a concern. It is obviously important for everyone around the world to be continuously reminded that this thing has not disappeared. It is still here, we still need to continue to follow protocols and wear a mask and keep our hands clean, keep our distances.”
The British driver, who can match Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 race wins if he takes victory on Sunday, acknowledged that losing a member of the team was a blow and that they would have to adapt.
“I can’t say what it is going to do to the weekend,” he said. “We have a lot of great people working in our team, it is not just about one person. We will try and make him proud this weekend. It’s going to take a lot of work to make sure that we continue on without any disturbances.”
The virus remains a real concern for drivers with a positive result almost certainly leading to them missing at least one race, if not more. Racing Point’s Sergio Pérez contracted the virus in July and missed both races at Silverstone. There is no indication that Hamilton had contact with the team member in question and his teammate, Valtteri Bottas, expressed his confidence in how Mercedes had handled it.
“We are all trying to do the best we can not to get it,” Bottas said, “It’s unfortunate one team member got it but I fully trust how the team is handling everything, doing everything we can to make sure it stops there.”
F1 has not raced at the Nürburgring since 2013 and Hamilton, who won in 2011 for McLaren, is one of only seven drivers on the grid who have competed here before. Going in to the meeting he enjoys a substantial advantage in the title race, leading Bottas by 44 points, with a maximum of seven races remaining.