Formula 1's current strategy on dealing with Covid is heavily reliant on lots and lots of testing and contact tracing, though without a strict vaccine mandate for those in the paddock. It sounds like that’s going to change for 2022.
There had been some rumblings about this last month, but it also sounds like the drama around tennis player Novak Djokovic recently getting kicked out of Australia for not being vaxxed might have pushed F1 over the edge. The new policy is simply: All F1 staff have to be vaccinated.
From PA Media:
The policy drawn up by the sport’s governing body will be written into the regulations for the new season and will apply to all drivers, teams, media and hospitality guests. It is expected that no exemptions will be granted.
The sport hopes the rule will avoid a repeat of the Novak Djokovic fiasco which overshadowed the build-up to this month’s Australian Open. All of the grid’s current drivers are understood to be vaccinated.
An F1 spokesperson said: “Formula One management will require all travelling personnel to be fully vaccinated and will not request exemptions.”
While it is understood the majority of personnel within the teams, F1 and the FIA have been moving towards the double-jabbed policy, the mandate will pose a dilemma for those opposed to compulsory vaccination.
The Guardian mentions Alan van der Merwe, the F1 medical car driver who missed races last year because he opted not to get the vaccine, and apparently still hasn’t gotten it, suggesting we may not see him back in 2022. As far as I can tell, Van der Merwe was last heard on the subject in November, when he was arguing with someone on Twitter about it — surely a great use of his time.
Anyway, good for Formula 1, though clearly they are doing this in part to avoid further disruptions as they travel the world, and not for health reasons solely. Still, it doesn’t really matter at this point, whatever it takes to get more jabs in more arms.