Red Bull Formula 1 motorsport advisor Helmut Marko says reports he had proposed sending the team’s drivers to a fitness camp with the aim of contracting coronavirus were misinterpreted.

Speaking in an interview with Austria’s television channel ORF, Marko suggested an idea of bringing his F1 drivers and juniors together to a training camp, which “would be the ideal time for the infection to come.”

Marko’s argument was that he felt his drivers would be better off getting infected with COVID-19 now so they could fully recover and be immune from the disease by the time the season could restart later in the year.

Red Bull team principal played down Marko’s idea as a “throwaway comment” and insisted it was never tabled as a serious plan.

Marko has since moved to clarify his comments, adding that the subsequent reports were wide of the mark.

“Of course that's not true,” Marko told German publication AutoBild.

“It wasn't about deliberately infecting someone. That came across wrong in the interview because it was also cut together.

“In Austria you are being overwhelmed by coronavirus media. Regardless of whether it's television, radio or newspapers: it's all about the virus.

“Of course you have to be careful and try to get the pandemic under control as quickly as possible, but please with a sense of proportion.”

The 76-year-old believes he may have already contracted coronavirus earlier this year after having flu-like symptoms before he travelled to the Australian Grand Prix.

“I'm sure the virus caught me in February,” he explained. “I had a ten-day cold with all the symptoms associated with the virus.

“When I flew to Melbourne for the planned Grand Prix, I felt better. On the return flight I had to stop in Dubai. Conditions prevailed there, which you cannot imagine.

“Tens of thousands of people from different nations scurried around in a confined space. But I was not infected against any logic. Probably because I was already resistant.

“If people my age, the highest risk group at all, can survive the disease, it can be said that young, well-trained athletes like our racing drivers should at least be less afraid of the consequences,” he added.

“That was the only reason why we considered organizing the training camp despite the danger from Corona. Above all, it should distract the boys and keep them fit.

“But there was never any talk of deliberate infection.”

 

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