Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko says his idea to get all of its drivers infected with coronavirus during the postponements will not be carried out.

Earlier this month, Marko said the Red Bull drivers should get coronavirus in a bid to gain immunity, while they could recover from COVID-19 during the delays to the start of the 2020 season.

But following health authority guidelines, the rest of the Red Bull management were opposed to the idea which has now been dropped.

“Let’s put it this way, it has not been well received,” Marko said, speaking in an interview with Austria’s ORF.

“We have four Formula 1 drivers and eight or 10 juniors, and the idea was that we would organise a camp to mentally and physically bridge the dead time.”

Marko has also revealed he thinks he may have already had coronavirus in February but due to limited testing available he has not been able to check with medical officials.

“I had what I thought was a severe cold and the symptoms would match corona,” he explained. “It was also something that I had never had in this intensity.

“I don’t know if it was because the test options are currently very limited. But as soon as there is a chance, I would like to be tested afterwards.”

With Red Bull contributing to the wider effort from the UK-based F1 teams to produce ventilators as part of ‘Project Pitlane’, Marko fully supports the efforts amid the early summer break called during ongoing postponements.

Currently all F1 teams are in shutdown for three weeks as part of the sport’s rules after the traditional summer break was pushed forward from August and expanded from two to three weeks.

“Production has already started here, we are producing ventilators,” he said. “This is the big plus of F1, that you can react to the greatest technological challenges in the shortest possible time and also have the necessary speed in production.

“We have been on the so-called early summer break since last Friday, but the production of those parts that are made for the British government continues during the break.”

With F1 postponed until mid-June at the earliest, with the Canadian Grand Prix set to host the 2020 opener on June 14, Marko says cramming the F1 campaign into the second half of the year will be “very, very tough”, following F1 boss Chase Carey’s target of 15 to 18 races.

“If there is a racing season with 15 to 18 races, it will be very, very tough. There is no possibility to improve your fitness during the season. So it's actually ideal to use this time now,” he said.

“At the current time, you would have to be clairvoyant to make a correct forecast, I cannot judge whether 50,000 or 100,000 spectators would make a difference.

“What is critical, however, is that all European borders have to be reopened, because viewers from all over the world come to such an international event. And it is difficult to assess to what extent the virus can be brought under control in the individual countries.”

Red Bull will have a focus on the Austrian Grand Prix given it organises the race at the track which is owned by the drinks company. The team will also have a strong interest in the Belgian, Dutch and British rounds due to its connections as the home races to either the team, Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon.

 

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