SPIELBERG, Austria (Reuters) – Formula One’s governing body has warned Ferrari about the risks of breaching the sport’s COVID-19 protocol and protective ‘bubble’.
Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel have been seen mixing with people outside their individual team groups.
Leclerc returned to his Monaco home after finishing second in last Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix while Vettel was shown on television talking to Red Bull bosses, without face masks, in the Red Bull Ring paddock.
“Ferrari have been issued with a reminder and warned that any further breaches of the COVID-19 code could be referred to the stewards,” said an FIA spokesman.
He added that the warning was about respecting the group system and need for social distancing rather than Leclerc’s travel movements.
The FIA’s COVID-19 code states that any time spent outside the closed venue “must be spent with other members of the same group, keeping interaction with persons outside that group to a minimum.”
Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas, who won last Sunday, also went home to Monaco after the opening race but the Finn remained within his ‘bubble’ by seeing only those within his existing group — his girlfriend and trainer.
Some team bosses also left the Red Bull ring, including McLaren’s Zak Brown.
“Zak had to fly back for business reasons but he was following all the necessary measures which are in place in terms of social distancing and isolating himself… I don’t see any safety risk,” said McLaren principal Andreas Seidl.
Racing Point principal Otmar Szafnauer told reporters he was worried that some people might not be sticking to the rules.
“I think the FIA should look further and make sure that everybody is doing it,” he added.
“We all have to stay vigilant because… if there is an outbreak here and we have to miss races, that would be disastrous.”
Formula One said 4,566 COVID-19 tests conducted on the drivers, teams and personnel between July 3-9 had all been negative.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Christian Radnedge and Ken Ferris)