The sport of Formula One is taking the coronavirus pandemic about as seriously as any sport has. Not only is the series limiting travel and limiting personnel on site, but every single person entering the premises is tested weekly, and tested every other day during Grand Prix weekends. Thus far the testing has found only a small handful of positive cases, but this week Racing Point driver and ten year veteran of the sport tested positive following some trans-Atlantic travel. As a result he will miss out on this weekend’s British Grand Prix.
Perez was tested in the UK ahead of the British Grand Prix on Thursday, and the first test came back inconclusive. A second test has returned positive results. The Mexican driver is said to be physically well, and has been placed into self-isolation under FIA guidelines. He will not be able to drive his number 11 RP20 racing car.
According to a report by ESPN Mexico, Perez spent the break between the Hungarian Grand Prix on July 19th and the British Grand Prix this week travelling to his home country of Mexico and spending some time on the Italian coast. Some photographs were apparently posted to Carola Martinez (Sergio’s wife)‘s Instagram account showing the couple in Porto Cervo, Italy on July 24th. Further, he was seen greeting and taking photos with fans at a restaurant in Guadalajara, Mexico on July 21st.
Soon after her husband’s testing positive for the coronavirus, Martinez deleted the two photographs from social media.
The Racing Point team has indicated that it intends to race two cars this weekend, meaning it will need to source a replacement driver in quick succession. Three names are circulating the paddock as replacements for the infected Perez.
The first two names are Mercedes test and reserve drivers Esteban Gutiérrez, and Stoffel Vandoorne. This would likely make sense, as Racing Point is in very good graces with Mercedes right now, effectively acting as a MB junior team. Obviously the 2020 Racing Point is an inch-for-inch copy of the 2019 Mercedes, and is powered by Mercedes customer engines, so both parties would want to keep the other happy, and it would give the Mercedes drivers more seat time on track.
The third driver is something of a dark horse in this race, but my personal favorite.
Anyone who has followed Nico’s career will agree that he’s clearly talented despite never landing on the podium. The man is perhaps cursed to a life of non-podium finishes. But he’s definitely good enough, and after being unceremoniously dropped by the Renault team at the end of 2019, he’s been without a ride in 2020. The former Le Mans winner and GP2 champion deserves another shot. Besides, how cool of a story would it be if he stepped into the Racing Point for a weekend or two and managed to net a podium for the team and cement his place in F1 trivia history.
I do hope that Sergio recovers quickly and can get back in the car soon, but perhaps this will serve as a learning opportunity for him and others. Wear the fucking mask. Keep your distance from others, even fans. Don’t travel if it’s not necessary. Stay safe and stay alive.
If anyone on the F1 grid in 2020 has anything to lose, it’s Sergio. The guy’s career is hanging by a thread and he goes and pulls shit like this? He’s clearly a very good driver, but the Racing Point/Aston Martin team is currently debating dumping him for Sebastian Vettel. He needs every opportunity possible to prove to the team that he should stay on next year rather than team owner Lawrence Stroll’s son Lance.