until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

F1’s tiny COVID case rise, and why fan return isn’t linked

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
2 min read

Formula 1 and the FIA have now completed almost 50,000 coronavirus tests with only 26 positive cases, although fewer COVID-19 precautions in Russia led to a small rise.

The most recent update from the championship’s stakeholders confirmed 1822 tests between the Friday of the Russian GP and this Thursday, with 10 people testing positive – the highest number during the weekly testing batches so far.

Despite that minor spike, F1 said the cases have been “managed quickly and effectively without impacting the event”.

Of the near-50,000 tests so far, Sergio Perez was responsible for two positive results as he missed the British and 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.

F1 online presenter Will Buxton did not travel to Russia after a positive test, but the rest of the positive cases have been from ancillary personnel such as cleaners, local officials, and catering providers, not those involved in team or F1/FIA race operations.

The championship is confident that the rise in positive cases is not linked to the return of fans, with more than 30,000 reportedly in attendance at Sochi.

Fans were kept away from the paddock area with crossover at a minimum.

This is important as almost every race will likely have fans in attendance, with the exception of the season finale in Abu Dhabi, and this suggests F1 can facilitate that without increasing the risk to those within its bubble.

It is expected that Russia’s less strict approach to the virus – less social distancing and fewer precautions – is responsible for the increased number of positive cases across the Sochi weekend as people were more exposed to it outside of the circuit.

Next weekend’s race in Germany, which still has strict COVID-19 protocols, will likely result in a reduction in numbers.

Russian Grand Prix 2020 Sochi

In any case, F1 is privately confident that the Sochi number is not an issue and such tallies do not put the races at risk.

Isolation protocols for close contacts and track-and-trace systems continue to be enforced to prevent the virus spreading from those who do test positive.

With 10 races complete and only 26 positive cases, F1 will likely be extremely pleased with the results its protocols have achieved.

Fan attendance is a matter for local authorities within their national restrictions and F1 has little direct control over that process.

But what it has been responsible for has generally been met with rigid adherence and enforcement, hence the low numbers despite the lingering COVID-19 threat and second wave of cases in some countries.

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