Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko proposed having his drivers deliberately infected with coronavirus in the hope that they’d be immune by the time the Formula 1 season starts.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to all international racing being put on hold while a number of countries around the world have entered into some form of lockdown. During the hiatus, Marko said he had an idea to organize a training camp where the likes of Max Verstappen, Alex Albon, Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat, along with other junior drivers, could have become infected and then overcome the virus.
“We have four F1 drivers, eight or 10 juniors, and the idea was that we organize a camp where we mentally and physically bridge this somewhat dead time,” Marko told Austrian broadcaster ORF. “And of course it would be ideal – these are all young, strong, really good men in good health – that the infection then comes, so that you would be all geared up whenever you start and you can be prepared for a probably very hard championship.
However, the idea was rejected by Red Bull, with Marko adding: “Well, I only discussed it in small groups, but it was not received positively!”
Scientists are still yet to definitively establish that those who recover from COVID-19 develop immunity.
It is still unclear when racing might be able to resume. The Canadian Grand Prix on June 14 is currently the first race on F1’s calendar that has not been postponed or cancelled, and Marko has doubts over how early in the summer races will be able to take place, specifically Red Bull’s home event in Austria on July 5.
“At the current time one would have to look in a crystal ball to make the correct forecast,” he said. “I can’t judge whether 50,000 spectators or 100,000 spectators would make a difference.
“What I think is the critical thing is that all European borders have to be opened, because at such an international event spectators come from all over Europe and overseas. How far the virus has become infected in individual countries or under control is really difficult to predict.”
Interview translation by Christian Menath