Racing Point Formula 1 driver Sergio Pérez has been ruled out of this weekend’s British Grand Prix after testing positive for Covid-19. Former works Renault driver Nico Hülkenberg will fill in for him in the race at Silverstone.
The Mexican racer produced an inconclusive test result when he arrived at the Silverstone circuit ahead of the event. He has now been retested by the FIA and Formula 1, and that result came back positive.
In a statement, F1 said: “Pérez has entered self-quarantine in accordance with the instructions of the relevant public health authorities and will continue to follow the procedure mandated by those authorities.
“With assistance of the local organiser of the British Grand Prix, local health authorities and the FIA Covid-19 delegate, a full track and trace initiative has been undertaken and all close contacts have been quarantined.
“The procedures set out by the FIA and Formula 1 have provided for swift containment of an incident that will have no wider impact on this weekend’s event.”
Perez issued a video saying that he likely picked up the virus on a trip to Mexico to visit his mother, who had been hospitalised following an accident.
Calling the positive test “one of the saddest days of my career”, he said: “It just shows how vulnerable we all to this virus. I followed all the instructions from the FIA, from my team. After Hungary I took a private plane to Mexico to see my mum for two days because she had a big accident. As soon as she left hospital I was able to see her. Then I came back to Europe, same way, with all the protocols in place. And I just don’t know from where I got it. I have no symptoms. It just shows how vulnerable we all are to this.”
Hülkenberg spent the past three seasons driving for Renault’s works team, but was left without a drive after losing his seat to Esteban Ocon this year. The 32-year-old German has started 177 races in his career, holding the record for the most starts without a podium finish.
Hülkenberg does havg some experience of Racing Point, having driven for the Silverstone-based squad in its former guise as Force India from 2012 until 2016.
F1 has adopted a ‘bubble’ format since it belatedly started its season in Austria earlier this month, with teams separated in the paddock and working in small, socially distanced units to limit potential infections.
In the three races since the season resumed, the FIA has conducted more than 15,000 Covid-19 tests, with two previous positive cases recorded. Pérez is the first driver to test positive.