Red Bull’s Max Verstappen hopes that nobody will have to miss races in Formula 1 amid rises in COVID-19 cases recently.
New variants of the virus have started to spread of late, and Sir Lewis Hamilton recently explained that this is why he has started wearing a face covering again while in the paddock.
In a lot of countries, wearing a mask is now personal choice, while social distancing has all but been abolished as people try to get back to living normal lives after the global pandemic began in 2020.
Six drivers have been forced to miss at least one race since the 2020 season.
Sergio Perez was the first F1 driver to catch it as he missed both races in Silverstone two years ago, before team-mate Lance Stroll contracted it too after he missed the Eifel Grand Prix with an illness that was not initially thought to be COVID.
Sir Lewis Hamilton missed the Sakhir Grand Prix later that year, before Kimi Raikkonen and Nikita Mazepin were forced to watch on from the side lines for parts of last year.
Sebastian Vettel sat out the first two races of this season, while other drivers – Lando Norris, Daniel Ricciardo, Pierre Gasly and Charles Leclerc – have all caught the virus, but have not missed any meaningful track action as a result.
The Dutchman warns that last-minute substitutions such as Nico Hulkenberg may be called upon again if the sport is not careful.
“Of course we are all opening up, but sometimes it seems like people forget that it’s still around, it will be very sad if drivers have to miss again races because of it,” said Verstappen, as per RaceFans.net.
“Of course everyone has their own preferences and how they want to do it but I think it’s not only that.
“If you stay somewhere for like five to ten minutes, it’s not too bad, but if you really start to be in closed-off areas with people who are not testing any more, it’s a bit of a different story as well.
“Of course these are things that can be looked at but also I think, in general, the FIA is following the local authorities.”
At the beginning of the pandemic, Red Bull adviser Dr Helmut Marko suggested putting Verstappen and then team-mate Alex Albon through a COVID camp to train their immune systems, but the team opted not to risk their drivers’ health.