It was a rather long wait for the start of the 2020 F1 season. After a 4 month-long break, the FIA eventually waved the green flag for the commencement of the season amidst the coronavirus pandemic wreaking havoc around the world.
Despite the sport’s extreme measures at preventing the drivers from falling for it, some big names fell victim to the life-threatening virus.
The drivers were a part of two different battles, one on-track with their rivals, and the other off-track with COVID. A total of three drivers lost the latter battle, as they tested positive for the virus. The first one being Sergio Perez.
Sergio Perez (Racing Point)
Checo was enjoying the form of his life since the start of the 2020 season. However, some unfortunate events led to the Mexican testing positive for COVID-19.
Following the Hungarian GP, Perez took a private jet to meet his mother, who met with an unfortunate accident in Mexico. However, he returned for the double-header in Silverstone.
During the routine testing prior to the race weekend, Perez’s results returned inconclusively. Hence, after a couple more tests, Racing Point revealed that Perez had tested positive for the virus. It meant that Perez could not take part in the race weekend.
It did not end there, as the 10-day quarantine rule prevented Checo from taking part in the subsequent weekend as well.
Thankfully, the team had their former driver, Nico Hulkenberg, as a back-up. Racing Point apparently called for the German’s services. He immediately flew straight to the team’s factory in Silverstone overnight.
After the seat fitting, he spent some time in the simulator before joining the team for FP1. It wasn’t until 15 minutes to the start of FP1 when Racing Point announced Hulkenberg’s return to F1.
Lance Stroll (Racing Point)
Another Racing Point driver in the list. The team did really have a roller coaster 2020 season. It was a couple of gloomy FP1 and FP2 at Nurburgring, as heavy mist prevented either of the sessions from taking place.
Hence, citing lack of runs on the new circuit, cars rushed out of pits to get some running in FP3 before moving to the qualifying. However, one of the Racing Point’s garage had the car intact, with the driver missing.
As the session progressed, Racing Point clarified that the Canadian was not feeling 100%, and hence had to self-isolate outside the paddock. Unfortunately, unlike Silverstone, the team was in a delicate situation and had to act rapidly to bring in a replacement.
Ever since the news of Stroll‘s absence broke out, the rumors of Hulkenberg taking over the seat started flooding on social media. Eventually, that is exactly how it turned out in reality. Thankfully, Hulkenberg was just hours away from the circuit and arrived on time for the qualifying session.
Despite lining up last on the grid, the German made an astonishing recovery to finish in P8. Meanwhile, on Sunday evening, Stroll received a positive test and flew back home. Later on, after recovering from the virus, Stroll revealed that he had no idea how he contracted the virus.
Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes AMG F1)
Following the Bahrain Grand Prix, a piece of news regarding Lewis Hamilton came as a shock to everyone. Mercedes released a statement stating that their prime driver had fallen victim to the virus.
Following many internal discussions, amid multiple choices, Mercedes handed the seat to their junior driver, George Russell.
In Lewis’s absence, Mercedes had their worst race weekend of 2020 at Sakhir Grand Prix. It wasn’t the qualifying that the team messed up at. It was the race. A radio miscommunication meant that neither of the drivers had the chance to chase after the win.
Russell was still within range of securing his first victory before he suffered a late-puncture and eventually finished in P9.
Meanwhile, there was Lewis still recovering from the virus after physically taking a drastic hit. Mercedes’ boss, Toto Wolff, eventually revealed where the Briton had caught the virus.
It was apparently during his trip to Dubai prior to the race weekend under the lights. Following a negative test after the Sakhir Grand Prix, Lewis received permission to fly to Abu Dhabi for the final showdown. Despite the physical struggles, he managed to finish on the podium in the race.
Overall, it was a hectic season for F1 to keep COVID-19 at bay. Despite the tiny mishaps, the way FIA and F1 handled the situations was applaudable. Hence, going into 2021, the threat will remain high. How far can the sport succeed in its second round of battle against the virus?