Racing Point are still awaiting conformation on when Sergio Perez can return, but “conflicting reports” on UK quarantine laws are complicating matters.
The Mexican was forced to miss the British Grand Prix after he returned an inconclusive test, before later testing positive with Nico Hulkenberg drafted in as his replacement for the weekend.
Perez has been in isolation with his physio and a member of his management team, both have tested negative.
Perez’s first test occurred on the Wednesday before the British Grand Prix, with his positive result coming on Thursday, but a change in the UK’s quarantine laws has left a date for his return unclear.
The UK guidelines have shifted from ordering a seven-day isolation period to 10 days, but because of the timing Racing Point boss Otmar Szafnauer still isn’t sure where Perez and the team stand in terms of that isolation period.
The change came into effect on Thursday, the day after Perez’s inconclusive result.
“We will adhere to the guidance of National Health England so we will do what they say,” he is quoted by Autosport.
“I’m not sure if it’s 10 or seven-day quarantine still today, there are conflicting reports, but we will get guidance from the right people at National Health England and follow it.
“Even if it’s only a seven-day quarantine, he still has to test negative by the COVID code of conduct that the FIA have out there, so we will endeavour to test him on Thursday, and if he’s positive then he can’t come into the paddock anyway.”
Szafnauer revealed that Perez’s Wednesday test was branded “inconclusive” by the FIA, but under the UK guidelines was classed as positive.
“The little bit of confusion is because it was on that cusp and the inconclusive test was only inconclusive by FIA standards,” he confirmed.
“By National Health England standards, that inconclusive test would have been a positive, so you can look at it and say it’s the National Health England standards and he was positive on Wednesday already, and on Wednesday you had to quarantine for seven days, and the 10 days that came in the following day may or may not be retroactive, that’s the bit I don’t know.
“So we’ll ask that question of National Health England and whatever they say, that’s what we’ll do, we’ll comply with whatever they deem is right in this situation, but the ambiguity comes in because it was just on that transition point.”
Szafnauer said the team need to have an answer before Friday, whilst also reiterating that Perez would only be allowed in the paddock if the virus was fully out of his system.
Hulkenberg would likely take his place again at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix if Perez can’t compete.
“We’ve got to get the answer, I don’t know when, but [sporting director] Andy Stevenson has been in contact with them and they’ll tell us relatively soon,” said Szafnauer.
“I think we just need to know before next Friday, so we’ve got a bit of time.
“But we want to do what’s right and we’ll follow their guidance for sure.
“We just need to have clear guidance and once we get that, we’ll do what’s right. Not to mention if Checo still has virus in his system, we don’t want him in the paddock either.
“We’ve got to protect our team and everyone else in the sport and that’s exactly what we’ll do.
“Even if National Health England say it’s seven days and he can come in on Thursday or Friday, we still will test him for virus in his system, and he’s got to have none.”