COVID-19 Is Causing Chaos In F1, IMSA, Super Formula Paddocks

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Photo: Brian Cleary (Getty Images)

While many disciplines of motorsport have done a solid job with their COVID-19 safety protocols, nothing has been foolproof. Drivers and team personnel have contracted the illness, but this weekend sees the impact of the virus on a much wider scale. Whether it be IMSA drivers or Formula One presenters, this weekend serves as a stark reminder that life still hasn’t gone back to normal.

The most drastic situation comes courtesy of Porsche’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship teams. The GT Le Mans class will feature neither of the two teams scheduled to join the grid at Mid-Ohio after there were three positive COVID-19 rest results after the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

In response, Porsche has decided to isolate the entire program, including all drivers and employees. Frederic Makowiecki, Nick Tandy, and Laurens Vanthoor, who were scheduled to fly to America to compete in the IMSA event, have been ordered instead to isolate. The team will also avoid contesting the Nurburgring 24 Hours.


It’s especially frustrating for the team because Porsche is scheduled to leave IMSA when the 2020 season wraps up. Missing Mid-Ohio will serve a serious blow to its GTLM championship standings, but the marque still intends to contest the final events of the season.

Over in the Formula One world, presenter Will Buxton has contracted COVID-19 and will not attend the Russian Grand Prix—a race that up to 30,000 fans are expected to attend.


F1 has established a fairly rigorous testing routine, ensuring that anyone entering the paddock has been tested. The series has also been transparent in releasing the numbers of positive cases, though only higher-profile folks like drivers and presenters have been identified as virus carriers. Names of team personnel are withheld for privacy.


This weekend, Formula 2 driver Tatiana Calderon was supposed to contest a race in at Okayama in the Super Formula series. While she has not contracted the virus, she has been unable to travel with enough time to spend a government-mandated two weeks in self-isolation.

Calderon contested last weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, which means that she has been unable to complete the two-week quarantine period. While the government has the ability to give people permission to isolate for a shorter period of time, Calderon has not secured it.


In her case, she can afford to miss a race or two. Japan’s strict travel rules has encouraged Super Formula to allow drivers an opportunity to drop their lowest points score when calculating championship standings. That way, anyone who is unable to travel to Japan in time to isolate before the race will be not be penalized.

Finally, Robin Frijns has withdrawn from the Nurburgring 24 Hours this weekend due to a flu-like illness, although he has tested negative for COVID-19. But any illness in 2020 is a terrifying affair. It is likely Frijns will undergo further testing to ensure that he did not receive a false negative.


Stories of drivers or mechanics contracting COVID-19 have been frequent, but the varying impact of the virus has not been quite as apparent as it is this weekend.