There is never a good time for anyone to get COVID-19, but Sergio Perez believes he contracted the virus at a particularly bad stage of the season.
The Mexican became the first Formula 1 driver to test positive for the coronavirus and had to miss rounds four and five of the World Championship, the back-to-back races at Silverstone.
Perez had just returned from a trip home to his native country but insisted he had taken every possible precaution on his visit.
Nevertheless, there were accusations that the 30-year-old had not eliminated all risk in terms of his contact with other people, although his Racing Point team boss Otmar Szafnauer later claimed Perez had picked up the virus from a personal chef on his return to Europe.
The timing of his self-isolation hit Perez hard, he revealed, and it occurred just over a month before he learned he had lost his place in the Racing Point team for 2021 to Sebastian Vettel.
— Sergio Pérez (@SChecoPerez) December 14, 2020
“Getting Covid at the start of the season when the car was at its strongest level, going into Silverstone where we knew we had two races to fight for podiums because we knew that was our strongest race, for me was a big blow,” Perez told Sky F1.
“I really needed those races so much in my career.
“We take care of things, we are here in the bubble doing so many things to stay away from the world and to get it [COVID]. Because I was the first one as well, I got criticised so much.”
Perez’s team-mate Lance Stroll became ill a couple of months later and after having to miss the Eifel Grand Prix with what at the time was an unspecified condition – Nico Hulkenberg was drafted in to deputise, as he was for Perez – the Canadian also tested positive for COVID-19 when he arrived home from the Nurburgring.
Since then, with Perez hoping to be signed by Red Bull for 2021, he has experienced the high points of finishing second in Turkey and then winning in F1 for the first time at the 190th attempt in the Sakhir Grand Prix.
“Things turned around and I always believe seasons in Formula 1 are so long,” said Perez.
“It doesn’t matter where you start or where you are in the middle of the season, it’s where you are at the end.”