It was confirmed earlier today, Monday 31 January 2022, that Covid-19 vaccines would become mandatory for all personnel and guests attending the Grand Prix races.
This announcement will mean that no-one will be able to work within the paddock without being fully vaccinated.
The news comes just a few days after F1 drivers were all reminded to get vaccinated ahead of the Australian Grand Prix following the controversy with Novak Djokovic’s deportation ahead of the Australian Open.
This policy will not just apply to the drivers and mechanics, but to anyone working within the sport - all team members, media, hospitality workers and any guests who attend the races.
This move is not expected to have an impact on any of the drivers’ ability to compete as it is believed that all of the current drivers are vaccinated.
It is not the first time that vaccines have been featured in Formula 1; a double vaccination status was a requirement of entry to the USA for last year’s US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.
The official medical car driver, Alan van der Merwe, was the most notable person to miss a number of races in 2021 as a result of his decision to not be vaccinated.
At last month’s meeting of the world council of the F1’s governing body, the FIA, it was agreed that double vaccination would be a requirement but there was a lengthy delay in announcing the decision.
There are still uncertainties, mainly centred around whether genuine medical exemptions will be permitted but the policy will be continued to be mandated by the FIA.
It is highly likely that with this new policy there will be relaxation of the COVID restrictions within F1, such as reduced testing and a relaxing of the ‘bubble’ system which has been designed over the past two years to reduce the spreading of COVID-19.
It is also thought that the sport will reduce the amount of testing that is done.
Formula 1 was the first major international sport to resume after the first lockdown in 2020 and has successfully run two seasons with a total of 39 races.
2022 will be a record season as the F1 calendar has 23 races scheduled for the year.
Only four drivers have had to miss races as a result of testing positive for the virus. Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll both tested positive for 2020 when both were at Racing Point. Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton missed the penultimate race of the 2020 season after catching the illness while Kimi Raikonnen was forced to miss last year’s Dutch and Italian Grands Prix due to testing positive.
A further four drivers - Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris, Pierre Gasly and Nikita Mazepin- have also contracted the virus out of the competition.
The 2022 Formula 1 season starts on Friday 18 March 2022 with the Bahrain Grand Prix
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