The remaining members of the McLaren F1 team who were tested for coronavirus in Melbourne have returned negative results.
After a fellow team member tested positive for Covid-19 last Thursday, the Australian medical authorities requested seven more McLaren staff who came into contact with the affected person take tests of their own. A further seven team members were told to quarantine themselves in their hotel rooms as a precaution and another, who had not been in contact with the confirmed case but was experiencing symptoms, also self-quarantined.
The seven that were tested returned negative results, although all 16 of the team members that were quarantined will remain in their hotel rooms for another week in order to honour the 14-day period requested by the Australian medical authorities. Three members of McLaren’s senior management are staying in Australia for the duration of the quarantine period to support those confined in their hotel rooms.
A McLaren statement added that the original individual who had tested positive for Covid-19 is now free of symptoms.
News of the positive Covid-19 test last Thursday ultimately led to the cancellation of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix and the return of the vast majority of the F1 paddock to Europe.
The first four races of the season have since been postponed, with an announcement of further postponements for the Dutch, Spanish and Monaco Grands Prix expected in the coming days. F1 released a statement last week saying it hoped to start the new season in late May, but internally the sport is now looking to the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in early June as a best-case season opener.
A revised calendar is not expected for another three to four weeks however, as the situation continues to be dictated by the global spread of the virus and long-term planning is almost impossible. Flexibility will also be required from teams and race promoters in order to fit postponed races back into the calendar at later dates, meaning a negotiating period will be required to ensure as may races go ahead as possible.
Part of the rescheduling will involve bringing F1’s mandatory mid-season factory shutdown forward several months to make space for rescheduled races in August. The shutdown was originally due to take place in August, requiring teams to halt operations at their factories for a two-week period between August 3 and 24 to allow staff to have time off, but the new shutdown period is now expected to start on March 23.
Because a change of the sporting regulations is required to move the shutdown period, all teams will need to agree to the proposal. At this stage that is not believed to be a problem and the plan will likely be announced once it has final approval from the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council. The plan is for the regulatory shutdown period to coincide with enforced government shutdowns to prevent the spread of coronavirus.