‘No surprises’ over Perez’s Mexico trip

Jon Wilde
Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez had to miss the British Grand Prix after testing positive for coronavirus

Otmar Szafnauer has defended Sergio Perez’s trip home to Mexico which preceded the Racing Point driver’s positive COVID-19 test – forcing him to miss the British Grand Prix.

During the 12-day gap between the Hungarian Grand Prix and the start of action at Silverstone, Perez took a privately-chartered flight across the Atlantic to visit his mother, who had been hospitalised following an accident.

Upon his return to Europe, the 30-year-old was tested for coronavirus in line with F1 protocols and after an ‘inconclusive’ initial result, his second test came up positive.

It prompted a scramble by Racing Point to find a driver to partner Lance Stroll at Silverstone, with Nico Hulkenberg the man selected.

But team boss Szafnauer insisted Perez broke no rules, telling Autosport: “We’ve got no clauses in the contract where he’s got to ask permission to go back to his family.

“I think his family was in Mexico and it’s not a surprise that he went back to Mexico, that’s what he’s done forever while he’s been driving for us.

“We did, though, discuss how he was flying there and back and it was always by a private flight, never commercially. There’s no issue with that.

“Hindsight is a wonderful thing. There are many people in hotspots all around the world. So our philosophy is we take all the precautions necessary in light of where we are travelling. And if we do take those precautions, I’m confident we won’t get the virus.

“We just need to now forensically look back and try to ascertain how Checo became infected, and make sure we cover that off in the future.”

Szafnauer stressed the FIA’s COVID-19 code of conduct does not prevent drivers from travelling when there are gaps between runs of back-to-back races.

“In between Hungary and Silverstone, because we had that weekend off, I think everybody went to wherever their families were,” he added.

“Perhaps we should look at that…change the code and say throughout the season, you stay within your bubble? I don’t know, that’s something for the FIA to consider.

“I read through the code a couple of times now and it’s a living document. So they say at the very beginning: from time to time as we learn, this will change, so perhaps that will change.

“But I don’t think Checo did anything wrong, going back to his family – he takes all the precautions.”

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