The McLaren team member who was diagnosed with coronavirus at the Australian Grand Prix is no longer showing symptoms and is recovering well, according to the team.
The team member’s positive test for COVID-19 resulted in McLaren pulling out of the Australian GP on Thursday evening, triggering a chain of events that led to the event’s cancellation the following day. Fourteen other McLaren employees have had to remain quarantined in Australia after coming into close contact with the confirmed case, but McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown says those involved are dealing well with the situation.
“I’m proud of how the whole team, both in Australia and back at base, handled the situation in a moment of real pressure and concern for their colleagues,” Brown said. “The focus, calmness and professionalism was outstanding across the team. We had leaders stepping up everywhere and that is testament to our people.
“We had been continually scenario-planning together with the team back in the UK, so we knew what our options were in the event of various outcomes. Andreas (Seidl, team principal) and I already agreed that if we had a positive case in the garage there was only one option. As I said before, as a racer it was the hardest decision I’ve had to take, but as CEO it was the easiest. Our people come first, and Andreas feels very strongly about this too.
“When the news came through on Thursday evening Andreas and I were at dinner with one of our shareholders. We immediately returned to the team hotel to join our race team leadership and while Andreas (Seidl) focused on leading the team, I focused on our board and shareholders, who were absolutely supportive I must say, while informing the other teams, F1 and the FIA.
“I’m happy to report that our team member affected with the virus is recovering well and the symptoms have gone and our people in quarantine are in good spirits. The support they have been getting from their team-mates, our partners, members of the F1 community and fans from around the world has been fantastic and our thanks go out to all of them.”
Seidl stayed in Australia for an extra few days to help coordinate matters, while racing director Andrea Stella will remain in Melbourne in support of the quarantined team members for the full two weeks. Against that backdrop, Brown says there is plenty for McLaren to be dealing with as F1 enters a period of shutdown in terms of racing, following the postponement of the next three rounds and doubts over the Dutch and Spanish grands prix.
“Our focus is now on the dialogue with F1, the FIA and the other teams on working through the 2020 calendar and managing the team over the next few months. It’s early days and this is an evolving situation but we are planning ahead and will stay flexible.”
McLaren has also revealed that rival teams all offered immediate support with packing down the garage and organizing the freight in Melbourne, as the team was 15 members down once the race was called off.