F1 adviser suggested drivers catch coronavirus on purpose
VIENNA (AP) — Red Bull motorsport adviser Helmut Marko has proposed holding a training camp where Formula One drivers could get infected by the new coronavirus — an idea rejected by the team.
Marko told Austrian public broadcaster ORF on Sunday he wanted to gather drivers while the F1 season was suspended.
“We have four Formula One drivers, we have eight or 10 juniors and the idea was to hold a camp where we could bridge this rather dead time mentally and physically,” Marko said.
“And then it would be ideal, because these are all young, strong men in really good health, if the infection comes then. Then they would be equipped, if it starts up again, for a really hard world championship.”
Marko said the idea “was not accepted positively” within Red Bull and was abandoned.
It wasn’t immediately clear if by “four Formula One drivers” Marko meant Red Bull’s two drivers and two reserves, or the two drivers from sister team Alpha Tauri.
Marko praised Red Bull driver Max Verstappen for throwing himself into the world of online racing to stay sharp, and said the drivers were focusing on their fitness.
“Max Verstappen is having more races than in a regular season,” Marko said. “If we come to a season with 15 or 18 races, it will be very hard and there won’t be a chance to rebuild the conditioning.”
The first eight races of the season have been canceled or postponed, leaving the Canadian Grand Prix in June as the first event still on the schedule. That could be followed by a packed string of scheduled and rearranged races.
The season-opening Australian GP was canceled.
The 76-year-old Marko, who raced in F1 in the 1970s, acknowledged he could be at risk for COVID-19.
“I belong to the high risk group but I’m not frightened. I respect it,” he said.
Marko added he had what he thought was a “heavy cold” in February but now thinks it could have been coronavirus symptoms.