During last weekend’s Turkish Grand Prix, Formula 1 was forced to call on Formula E for support after the team in its medical car tested positive for Covid-19. Now, medical car driver Alan van der Merwe is facing the possibility of missing further F1 races as he isn’t vaccinated against the virus.
Last week, F1 announced that medical car driver van der Merwe and medical delegate Ian Roberts would miss the Turkish Grand Prix after they tested positive for Covid-19. Following the announcement, van der Merwe revealed this was the second time that he had contracted Covid, and that he isn’t vaccinated against the virus.
On Twitter, he said, “Vaccines are showing to be safe and effective for the vast majority of people. But what if you’re not in the majority? Do you automatically need to be excluded from society? Should some people’s health be sacrificed for the greater good of a vaccine rollout?”
In a lengthy thread, he continued to say that he was “fully aware that I will potentially be less employable or that my freedom of movement will be restricted based on my choices."
It turns out that this last statement was correct, as F1’s management has confirmed to reporters that van der Merwe may not be able to participate in the final races of the 2021 season.
While F1 itself doesn’t require personnel to receive the Covid vaccine, mandates in place at countries the sport is yet to travel to this year could stop van der Merwe from participating.
According to Reuters, F1 race director Michael Masi said:
“From what we understand, there are a couple of countries that you probably won’t be allowed to enter ... unless you’re vaccinated.
“You need to comply with those requirements to enter the country and from that perspective the FIA obviously has to respect the country’s requirements to get in, as will all the teams and everyone else.”
Vaccine mandates are in place in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, while all but essential travel is advised for unvaccinated people to Mexico and Brazil. All of which remain on the F1 calendar for 2021.
Additionally, the US will require all adult foreign nationals to be fully vaccinated before boarding a US-bound international flight from early November. However, the US Grand Prix will transpire before this is enforced.
Despite these restrictions, which could severely impact his ability to do his job driving the medical car in different countries, van der Merwe maintained his position on social media and said that he would “not choose convenience over my own health.”
But the man partly responsible for F1's medical response at races doesn’t want you to think he’s anti-vax and added, “If you want to get vaccinated, do it. I’m pro-vaccine for those that want and can have them.”
So he isn’t anti-vaccine, just anti this vaccine, right?