Motor racing-Mercedes F1 team member tests positive for COVID-19

Oct 8 (Reuters) - Formula One champions Mercedes reported on Thursday that a member of their team had tested positive for COVID-19 but a spokesman said drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were clear.

The British-based team are preparing to race at the Nuerburgring in Germany this weekend. The previous grand prix two weeks ago was in Russia.

Six times world champion Hamilton leads Bottas in the championship by 44 points after 10 races.

“We can confirm that a team member has tested positive,” said a spokesman.

“This has been handled and is being handled in line with FIA protocols, working closely with the FIA,” he added, without giving further details.

The sport is operating in carefully controlled bubbles, even within teams, with access to the paddock restricted to essential staff and employees subjected to regular tests.

Formula One last week reported 10 positive COVID-19 tests over the Russian Grand Prix weekend, the most yet but all ancillary personnel, and said the teams were unaffected in that batch.

Racing Point’s Mexican Sergio Perez, who missed two races in August, remains the only driver so far to have tested positive for the virus.

The Russian race in Sochi was the first with a substantial crowd in attendance. Organisers said 30,000 people visited the Olympic Park each day.

A second wave of the novel coronavirus has seen daily cases accelerate in both Germany and Britain among other European countries. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Toby Davis)