A group including Formula E race winner Alexander Sims is urging UK racing companies to donate protective clothing they can then distribute to NHS workers amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Nearly 10,000 cases of COVID-19 and 465 deaths have been confirmed in the UK, the sixth-highest number of fatalities worldwide, and the country has enforced strict lockdown measures in a bid to contain the spread of the virus.
However, health workers in hospitals are also battling a shortage of personal protective equipment, which jeopardises their wellbeing and increases the chances of passing the virus on to patients.
BMW Formula E frontrunner Sims has written to personnel involved in British motorsport in an attempt to pool resources in the industry, as part of an effort to collect protective clothing from race teams, suppliers and manufacturers that may have stock in stores and workshops.
Unopened quantities of face masks, goggles, gloves, Tyvek suits, shoe covers, plastic aprons, barrier cream, industrial hand and surface wipes have all been requested.
These items will be usable as they do not have to be from pre-agreed supply chains.
Those who may be able to assist can contact Sims directly. A list of items will be compiled, details of where and when to pick them up will be arranged, and the stock will be collected from workshops if they are open, or homes.
Exact quantities are not required, with people urged not to travel unnecessarily to check stock.
It is a UK-wide initiative although the UK’s ‘Motorsport Valley’, around Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, is being prioritised, and is being coordinated solely to help give NHS workers the equipment they need.
“This may well be a drop in the ocean compared to the big manufacturing companies that are scaling up but it’s something small we can do to help,” said Sims.
Any individual or group that may be able to assist, or wishes to inform somebody who can, can also contact Sims on Twitter.
This community-based effort is the latest example of motorsport personnel attempting to assist amid the crisis.
As well as protective equipment, the UK faces a shortage of medical equipment to handle the developing situation.
In response to the UK government’s call for assistance last week several teams including Mercedes and Red Bull were evaluating how they can help manufacture respiratory devices to aid the treatment of coronavirus patients.
Williams’s Advanced Engineering, the technology business that runs separate to the F1 team, has also donated face masks to Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital.
And in Italy, the Agnelli family that owns Ferrari donated €10m to help the country’s attempts to fight the virus, purchased 150 ventilators and other medical equipment, and provided the Italian Red Cross and ANPAS (the Italian National Association for Public Assistance) with vehicles to distribute food and medicine.