Formula 1 driver tests positive for Covid-19. Here's who might replace him
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Given the way it criss-crosses Europe, no sporting code is in a more complicated web than Formula 1. Now the series has its first Covid-19 among its drivers.
Racing Point's Sergio Perez has tested positive for the virus, in the build up to the category's return to Silverstone for this weekend's British Grand Prix. The team confirmed that the Mexican racer is "physically well and in good spirits", adding that its intention is “to race two cars on Sunday. We will communicate the next steps for our British Grand Prix weekend in due course.”
“Following today’s announcement that Sergio Perez of the BWT Racing Point Formula 1 Team produced an inconclusive test result for COVID-19 at the Silverstone Circuit ahead of the 2020 FIA Formula 1 British Grand Prix, the FIA and Formula 1 can now confirm that the result of his re-test is positive,” said an additional statement from the FIA.
“Perez has entered self-quarantine in accordance with the instructions of the relevant public health authorities, and will continue to follow the procedure mandated by those authorities.
"With assistance of the local organiser of the British Grand Prix, local health authorities and the FIA COVID-19 delegate, a full track and trace initiative has been undertaken and all close contacts have been quarantined. The procedures set out by the FIA and Formula 1 have provided for swift containment of an incident that will have no wider impact on this weekend’s event.”
Perez isn't the first driver in a leading category to test positive for the virus. Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson was forced to sit on the sidelines after also testing positive for Covid-19 earlier in the year.
Attention now turns to who's likely to replace Perez. The development gains particular significance given Racing Point's immense form this year, much of which has been credited to its new car (which bares more than a striking resemblance to last year's Mercedes). Perez and teammate Lance Stroll sit sixth and eighth in the points standings, with Stroll coming off a fourth-place finish in Hungary.
Hotly tipped to take over from Perez for the weekend in Nico Hulkenberg. The former A1GP champ and Renault F1 driver has repeatedly signaled his desires to return to the category, after missing out on a full-time drive for 2020.
Apart from being a noted steady hand, Hulkenberg is also known for having never claimed a podium finish since his 2010 debut. A seat in a current Racing Point would provide the best chance for the German to scoop up a surprise podium.