F1 drivers warned they must be fully vaccinated to compete in Australian GP

There has not been a Formula 1 race in Melbourne since the season-opener of 2019.

Australian Grand Prix chief Andrew Westacott has made his position clear on the necessity for Formula 1 drivers and paddock members to receive a full COVID-19 vaccine before entering the country.

Tennis world number one Novak Djokovic was recently unable to defend his Australian open title despite being granted a “medical exemption” by the tournament organisers to play due to his neglection to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Australian law states that anyone entering the country must have proof of a vaccine, and thus the Serb was twice detained before eventually being deported.

Australia has been conspicuously absent from each of the last two F1 seasons due to the pandemic.

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The race in Melbourne was cancelled just hours before the first practise session was due to get underway in 2020, and it would be another four months until we would see any racing when the drivers took to the Red Bull ring for the Austrian Grand Prix.

F1 managed to squeeze 17 races into a peculiar season two years ago, before a 22-race calendar was completed in 2021.

However, the circus was unable to pay a visit to Australia before Japan, Singapore, Canada and China were also struck off for the second year running.

Now though, Australia is set to play host to the third grand prix of 2022 after the opening two rounds in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

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Westacott equivocated his certainty that every team member will have to be jabbed in order to participate in the Melbourne event.

“The rules are simple to get into the country and the rules are simple to operate in Formula 1,” he said, as quoted by TalkSport.

“To come into the event you’ll be 100 per cent vaccinated and there won’t be an exemption sought for anyone from anyone.”

Westacott emphasised that these rules are not in place because of the Djokovic incident, and that everyone in the paddock must adhere to the pre-existing laws to avoid a repeat of the tennis controversy.

“Our arrangements have been in place well before the recent goings-on at the Australian Open,” he affirmed.

“These rules are understood by Formula 1, they’re understood by the FIA, they’re going to be written into the sporting regulations and I’m very confident that it is just going to be a rite of passage to come into the country.”

Sir Lewis Hamilton, Sergio Perez, Lance Stroll and Kimi Raikkonen have all had to miss races in the last two seasons by virtue of testing positive for coronavirus, and the race chief outlines that any positive test will of course result in a prohibition to participate in the weekend.

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“There’s zero tolerance. Whether you’re Lewis Hamilton or Valentino Rossi in MotoGP, if you test positive, you don’t race that weekend,” he stated.

The Australian GP is scheduled to be one of 23 races on the calendar this season, but uncertainty continues to loom owing to the presence of the Omicron variant.

F1 drivers have recently united in an appeal asking everyone to get vaccinated against the virus to protect themselves and others around them.

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