SPIELBERG, Austria (Reuters) - Formula One’s managing director for motorsport Ross Brawn has warned against complacency after thousands of negative COVID-19 tests, saying on Saturday there was bound to be a positive at some point.
The latest batch of 4,566 tests carried out at Austria’s Red Bull Ring between July 3-9 were all negative, as were the previous 4,032 conducted between June 26 and July 2.
The Australian Grand Prix on March 15, which would have been the season-opener, was cancelled after a McLaren team employee tested positive but the sport has come up with a system that allows racing to continue if that happens again.
“The concept of the biosphere, the big bubble and then every team is split down into small bubbles... we will get a positive at some stage but we hope then we can control it and minimise the risk,” Brawn told Sky television.
“Touch wood, we’ve been OK so far but we can’t get complacent,”
Sunday’s Styrian Grand Prix is the second round of the season after the opening Austrian race at the same circuit last weekend.
The governing FIA this week warned Ferrari after drivers Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc mixed with people from outside their immediate group.
Leclerc returned to Monaco after finishing second last Sunday while Vettel was seen on television talking to Red Bull bosses, without face masks.
The FIA’s COVID-19 code states that any time spent outside a closed venue “must be spent with other members of the same group, keeping interaction with persons outside that group to a minimum.”
The next race after Austria is Hungary, where team members can expect even tighter restrictions on their movement when not at the track.
Most of the teams are based in Britain, which has the highest coronavirus death toll in Europe.
“Everyone’s keen to get racing, as long as we can offer a safe environment for everyone to do it,” said Brawn.
“We need to make sure that Formula One, being an international sport moving around the world, we don’t become a sport that takes COVID into a country.
“We’ve got to be someone who countries can totally rely on being a safe activity to have.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London; Editing by Ken Ferris