Wittich set for Miami role after negative Covid test

Sam Cooper
FIA race director Niels Wittich wearing a mask. Imola, April 2022.

FIA race director Niels Wittich wearing a mask at the 2022 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Imola, April 2022.

Formula 1 will have its intended race director for the Miami Grand Prix after Niels Wittich overcame a bout of Covid.

There had been concerns the inaugural race in Miami would be seeking a different race director after both Wittich and Eduardo Freitas, who share the director role, reportedly tested positive for Covid last week.

The pair had been brought into the role at the start of this season in the wake of Michael Masi’s removal and it was decided the job should be shared rather than given to one person.

The FIA never confirmed the health of either race director but reports suggested the governing body were struggling to find a solution to the problem ahead of the Miami Grand Prix.

Formula E race director Scot Elkins was reportedly an option as a replacement had both Wittich and Freitas been unavailable but The Race are reporting Wittich passed a Covid test last week.

Formula 1 has dropped its mandatory policy of testing everyone associated with a race weekend, but the United States requires a negative test for entry into the country.

The news of Wittich and Freitas’ positive tests was first broken by Sky Sports reporter Craig Slater, who said the information had come from “very senior sources”.

“I wouldn’t like to say the Miami Grand Prix is in doubt, but it’s difficult to get away from that conclusion because I’ve learned both Formula 1 race directors, Eduardo Freitas and Niels Wittich, have both tested positive for Covid,” Slater said last week.

“I understand both tested positive for Covid this week, which would mean there is a reasonable chance one might be negative in time to travel to America for the Miami event.

“I’ve not had confirmation of this from the FIA itself. In fact, when I contacted them this evening, they described these reports as unsubstantiated and they say they would only disclose medical information about personnel if it was relevant to the running of an event.

“But I’ve had it from very senior sources that both these race directors have tested positive for Covid.

“Now, what’s the problem here? Well, they are the only two individuals nominated to be race directors for the season. They were appointed as replacements for the controversial Michael Masi, these are highly specific and specialised roles and it’s not straightforward to get replacements for them.

“And as I understand it, as we speak at the moment, there has been no potentially nominated replacement, that’s to say they have no-one nominated who has agreed to take this job waiting in the wings as we speak.”

That problem appears to have been avoided though, with Wittich set to sit in the hot seat as he has for the last two races at Melbourne and Imola.


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