The new year has begun very much as the previous one ended in Formula 1: With all eyes in the evolution of the COVID-19 threat. The 2020 World Championship ended with seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton still convalescing from the disease. The new season now starts with news of further contagion.
Added to the worrying rumours of a possible delay in the start of the new campaign (March 21) in Australia, a new COVID infection has been reported among the driver’s ranks.
McLaren’s Lando Norris has tested positive for coronavirus in Dubai (United Arab Emirates) where he was enjoying a few days of rest before the start of a training camp in preparation for next season.
The news was announced this Tuesday by both the British driver and the Woking team on social networks.
The 22-year-old posted the following Tweet explaining the course of events: “Yesterday (Monday) I lost my sense of taste and smell so immediately I self-isolated and took a test. It’s come back as positive, so I’ve told everyone that I’ve been in contact with”.
For their part, McLaren reassured fans that, beyond some mild symptoms, their driver is in good health: “McLaren can confirm that Lando Norris tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday in Dubai, where he is currently on holiday ahead of a planned training camp (…) In line with local regulations, he is now self-isolating at his hotel for 14 days. He is currently feeling well and reports no other symptoms.”” ]
Apparently, Norris realised on Monday that he had lost his senses of taste and smell. He immediately brought it to the attention of his team who rushed him to get a PCR test done. The result was positive.
In compliance with the sanitary protocol of the country, he must remain in isolation for 14 days in the United Arab Emirates. Following this quarantine, Lando Norris will have to undergo a new test to verify that he is no longer carrying the disease. Only if this last test is negative, he will be allowed to come out of isolation.
Perez, Stroll & Hamilton
Lando Norris has thus become the fourth F1 driver to catch COVID-19. Checo Perez had the dubious honour of contracting the disease first at the end of July. Perez, then with Racing Point, was infected during a lightning trip to his native country to visit his mother who had suffered a serious accident.
Despite barely showing any symptoms, he missed the British Grand Prix, where he was replaced by the German Nico Hulkenberg. Lance Stroll, the other member of Racing Point, now Aston Martin, followed in the footsteps of his partner from Jalisco.
Just as Checo, the Canadian only suffered some mild discomfort. Apparently, he was infected before the Eiffel GP (October 9-11), where he didn’t take part for feeling unwell and where he was also replaced by Hulkenberg.
Third in the COVID ranking came no other than current seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton, who was infected shortly before the Sakhir Grand Prix (December 4-6).
His misfortune meant replacement George Russell had the chance of a lifetime as he replaced Hamilton behind the wheel of the W11 and demonstrated to the world what he was made of.
Perhaps because of this display of strength by the young Williams, the champion from Stevenage rushed to take his car back for the final round in Abu Dhabi, where it became apparent that he was still not fully recovered.
The Mercedes driver later revealed that he had suffered considerably during the race, after having lost several kilos during his convalescence. He was still not physically fit.
Images of Lando Norris: McLaren.