McLaren says it has full faith in the plans for this weekend’s Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix, nearly four months after a team member tested positive for coronavirus in Australia.
Formula 1’s planned season opener was called off in the wake of McLaren withdrawing from the event when a team member tested positive for the virus, with others isolating as a precaution.
As part of the new protocols each Formula 1 squad will operate separately from their rivals while within teams there will be subgroups.
Attending personnel, who must adhere to social distancing and wear protective equipment where possible, will undergo a coronavirus test every five days.
In addition there will be no spectators, no guests while only a limited number of broadcast and written media will be present, the latter confined solely to the media centre.
“I have to say I’m very happy with the plan that has been developed under the leadership of the FIA, gives us a clear regulation, clear procedure, of how we execute the weekend,” said McLaren boss Andreas Seidl.
“I think what is different now to Australia that we have clear concept of isolation, of the teams, between each other.
“We [will] show up in Austria in these different groups and then separate groups within the team, so the policy is clear.
“If you develop symptoms we will immediately test a team member in the paddock plus for the close contacts as well, the members of this group, we should get the test result within a couple of hours on-site which then allows us to simply make a quick decision for what the next steps are.
“The approach is clear, if someone is positive, they need to be isolated from the team and can’t continue, but for everyone else who is negative we can simply keep going.
“We have back up personnel ready here in the UK fully tested as well, simply to be able to cope with different scenarios that could arise.”
Seidl accepted “the risk is there” of a race driver potentially missing a session, or even a race, but reckons the extensive measures will substantially reduce the risk.
“It’s a virus and as we have seen it can spread quite quickly,” he said.
“But at the same time with all the measures we have in place, all the testing we have before arriving at the circuit, we arrive in Austria well prepared, having done what was reasonable to do in order to protect the team from having anyone in the team with the virus.
“We see also in different companies or countries you quickly develop hotspots of the virus, then 10, 20 or more people have the virus in a short period of time.
“There’s no 100 per cent safety or guarantee but at the same time as I said before with everything in place, together with FIA, and other teams, I’m very optimistic that we will have great weekends ahead of us.”