Racing Point was warned about its reporting of COVID-19 cases to the FIA when Lance Stroll tested positive because it followed a number of team members previously testing positive after the Russian Grand Prix.
Stroll was unable to drive at the Eifel Grand Prix after feeling unwell, with team principal Otmar Szafnauer saying he had been suffering from flu-like symptoms, upset stomach and fatigue — all listed by the World Health Organization as COVID symptoms — since Russia. The Canadian was not tested in Germany and then returned a positive result when he returned home to Switzerland, but Racing Point was slow to inform the FIA.
Szafnauer claimed Racing Point was not officially warned but only given a reminder of the need to immediately inform the FIA, and the governing body has now confirmed the letter that was sent reminded the team of the need to adhere to the COVID Code of Conduct, after the team had properly reported a number of other cases following Russia just two weeks earlier.
RACER understands a senior member of Sergio Perez’s car crew was one of multiple positive results after the team returned from Russia, although it is unclear whether Perez himself was informed before they were absent from the race at the Nurburgring.
Those further cases are despite Szafnauer denying Racing Point had any after Russia, even though he was asked directly on Friday in Portugal for a yes or no response to an engineer testing positive, to which he replied: “No.
“We didn’t have an engineer test positive after Russia. 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. We’ve had our two drivers test positive and a few members at the factory, and that’s it.
“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 airplane lands we have (testing firm) Eurofins there testing, so everyone has peace of mind when they go home to their families that they’re not bringing the virus with them, which is why I know that we didn’t have a positive test after Russia.”
While Szafnauer’s account didn’t reflect the positive test results that the engineering personnel had received, the FIA was already aware of the cases as the team had informed it in a timely manner following its return from Sochi.
Following the Stroll saga, Racing Point was criticized for a lack of “immediate transparency” in Portugal by McLaren’s Zak Brown, while testing protocols were coincidentally tightened at the last race.