Formula 1 drivers could be forced to miss part of a race weekend if one of their mechanic crew tested positive for coronavirus.

After the opening 10 races were called off due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 season will begin with the Austrian Grand Prix on 5 July, kicking off a run of eight European races in 10 weeks.

F1 has put in place a number of health and safety protocols and strict testing measures to prevent a spread of coronavirus within the paddock when the season gets underway, as part of plans to create a ‘biosphere’ environment.

Last week F1 CEO Chase Carey stated a race would not be cancelled if a driver or team member contracted coronavirus because the FIA is confident it now has procedures in place to deal with cases of infection within the paddock.

Speaking as part of a wide-ranging interview with BBC Sport, F1’s managing director Ross Brawn explained that drivers may have to miss sessions if their mechanics came down with symptoms, though he stressed the likelihood of such a scenario would be “very low”.

“If somebody comes down with the symptoms, you'd have to deal with it straight away," Brawn said.

"We would have to isolate that group until they could all be tested.

"If we do get a positive case then we can isolate that case and people who have been in contact with that person very quickly.

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"A group of mechanics working on a car, while they will be wearing PPE [personal protective equipment], it will be very difficult to socially distance.

"But there is no reason why that group of mechanics will necessarily be part of another family of mechanics working on the other car.

"So if we have somebody test positive in one of the groups, then we would have to isolate that group until they could all be tested.

“We would have to isolate that group until we could be sure the virus hadn't spread but the rest of the team could still function.”

The testing procedures in place during F1 weekends would take up to two hours to return a result, meaning anyone within the group would have to isolate as a precaution.

Asked if that would mean a driver could not take part while the process was going on, Brawn replied: “Yes it would.”

While Brawn admitted a driver might be forced to skip part of, or even a whole practice session, it would be highly unlikely that a driver would have to sit out of the grand prix as cars are not allowed to be worked on beyond qualifying unless damage is sustained.

 

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