Formula 1 confident COVID-19 protocols are working

An increased number of positive COVID-19 results in the run up to last Sunday’s Russian Formula One Grand Prix shows that safety protocols are working well, the sport said on Monday.

Seven people were positive from 3,256 tests between September 18-24 on the drivers, teams and personnel. There had been only nine from the nine previous rounds.

“Formula 1 and the FIA safety protocols are working very effectively including testing, tracing and other safety measures to ensure social distancing,” said a spokesman.

“We have always said that there will be positive cases and we have shown that when they occur we can deal with the situation safely without disruption to an event.”

Six of the latest positives were understood to be ancillary staff, including contracted cleaners, and the other a British television presenter who did not travel to Russia.

The sport has conducted 47,000 tests since the July opener in Austria.

All those tested must return a negative result before granted access to the paddock and there is no interaction between fans and drivers.

The Russian Grand Prix was the first race of the year with a substantial number of spectators attending.

The first eight rounds were held behind closed doors due to the pandemic, with some 2,880 a day then allowed into the Tuscan Grand Prix at Italy’s Mugello circuit.

The paddock remains closed to all but essential staff and teams, who are operating in bubbles to limit the risk of infection and have travelled to races directly on charter flights.

Racing Point’s Sergio Perez is the only driver to have tested positive so far, with the Mexican missing two races in August. He finished fourth in Sochi on Sunday.

Russia has the world’s fourth-highest number of infections, with the number rising steadily in recent weeks.