‘Dr Mallya, Dr Seuss, or Dr Dre?’ - Brown digs at Racing Point's COVID protocols

McLaren F1 CEO Zak Brown has taken a swipe at Racing Point’s handling of Lance Stroll’s positive COVID-19 test after he missed the Eifel GP.
Zak Brown (USA) McLaren Executive Director.
Zak Brown (USA) McLaren Executive Director.
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McLaren Formula 1 CEO Zak Brown has taken a swipe at Racing Point’s handling of Lance Stroll’s positive COVID-19 test after he missed the Eifel Grand Prix.

Stroll pulled out of the Nurburgring race after reporting a stomach upset before he tested positive for coronavirus upon returning home to Switzerland on the Sunday of the Eifel Grand Prix.

McLaren withdrew from the Australian Grand Prix in March after a member of its team contracted COVID-19 in the Melbourne paddock and Brown was critical of Racing Point for not testing Stroll as soon as it emerged he was unwell.

“For McLaren, we put our people first and foremost, we won’t take any risks, we won’t gamble,” Brown said on Friday. “We recognise how dangerous this [the virus] is, want to make sure everyone stays healthy to continue to put on Grands Prix.

“I think the sport has done a good job, there has been more cases, Racing Point being most visible recently. We do a tremendous amount of testing, we take full precaution. I think we all need to look after each other’s back. If I look at the Racing Point incidents, I would probably test anyone who isn’t feeling well daily.

“In Australia, we had someone who didn’t feel well, Andreas and I aren’t doctors but we took a quick decision to isolate. Once the test came back positive, we isolated the team. Ultimately we knew it would shut us down for the race.

“I know the [Racing Point] doctor didn’t think a test was positive, maybe in hindsight, that should have been different. Don’t know who the doctor is. Don’t know if it was Dr Mallya, Dr Seuss, maybe it was Dr Dre.  

“Maybe next time around, we should be testing when anyone has any sorts of symptoms because we know how dangerous this is.”

Otmar Szafnauer (USA) Racing Point F1 Team Principal and CEO on the grid.
Otmar Szafnauer (USA) Racing Point F1 Team Principal and CEO on the grid.
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Szafnauer defended his team’s handling of Stroll’s situation but Brown questioned how Racing Point could substantiate its claim that it has conducted more tests than “any company on the planet”.

“I don’t know what everyone’s testing protocols are - I know how much we test,” Brown added. “I’ve just heard Racing Point tests more than any company on the planet. I’m not sure how you substantiate that.

“All I know is when we had our issue in Australia, we communicated it very quickly to everyone because I think we have a moral obligation to people’s health that they need to have high level of awareness.

“That’s I think exactly what Mercedes did when they had their incidents. So, again, I don’t know all the details, I just know what I read and see.

“It looks like there wasn’t immediate transparency and for an entity that tests as much as they do, all I know is we would be testing anyone at McLaren who doesn’t feel well daily and to make sure that that person is healthy and that they’re not transmitting and then would isolate anyone that was around them immediately.”

Szafnauer, who was in the same press conference as Brown, provided further insight into Racing Point’s protocols and testing procedures for COVID-19.

“I think we’ve now done nearly 20,000 tests, 15,000 at the factory and however many that we do here, because we test more than once,” said Szafnauer.

“We’ve had our two drivers test positive and a few members at the factory and that’s it. But we test more than any other business, more than any other Formula 1 team, on the planet. We test all of our employees every Tuesday and every Friday, and we test everybody that’s at the track upon landing in Britain.

“So every Monday when our plane lands, we have Eurofins that are testing so everyone has peace of mind when they go home to their families that they’re not bringing the virus with them.”

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