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Formula 1

Williams team principal Roberts has COVID-19, misses Turkey

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
2 min read

Williams acting Formula 1 team principal Simon Roberts will miss the Turkish Grand Prix after testing positive for COVID-19.

Roberts assumed the role at Williams ahead of the Tuscan Grand Prix at Mugello, following the purchase of the team by Dorilton Capital and the departure of the Williams family from their senior roles.

He tested positive for the coronavirus prior to travelling to Istanbul for this weekend’s race.

F1 says Roberts tested negative on Monday but was displaying “minor symptoms” and took a second test on Tuesday, which was positive.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Tuscan Grand Prix Practice Day Mugello, Italy

He is now isolating for a 10-day period and has not been in close contact with other members of the race team.

Williams is therefore planning to continue its trackside operation as scheduled.

Team manager Dave Redding and chief engineer of vehicle design Adam Cartner will assume Roberts’ responsibilities on-site.

“As a team, we have been taking part in a robust testing plan alongside adhering to the FIA Covid guidelines,” Williams stressed in a statement.

The Race says…

The significance of how Williams and Simon Roberts appear to have handled this situation should not be underestimated.
Roberts tested negative on Monday as part of Williams’s regular schedule so, despite showing minor symptoms on Tuesday, was therefore clear to travel to Istanbul.

Though the FIA’s protocols have changed and he would have needed a negative test within 24 hours of arrival in Turkey, Roberts could have theoretically travelled, met up with his team members and entered the paddock before the next mandatory test, which would have revealed he had COVID-19.

Had he done so, he’d have almost certainly come into close contact with others, and risked transmitting the virus.

It’s therefore to the team and his credit that, in light of the mild symptoms on Tuesday, they opted for proactivity and transparency rather than taking a chance. Instead of undermining the protocols, they have prevented potential further disruption for the team and for F1.

This may seem like making a fuss over nothing, but the lack of transparency around Racing Point’s handling of Lance Stroll’s illness and subsequent positive COVID case at the Eifel Grand Prix went down extremely badly in some quarters of the paddock.

The protocols put in place by F1 and the FIA can only work if people buy into them. And with so much of the world in the grips of a second wave, a needless risk within the F1 bubble would have been extremely irresponsible.

Scott Mitchell

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