Red Bull’s motorsport advisor Helmut Marko considered putting a camp together where his drivers could get infected with the coronavirus before the 2020 Formula One season resumed.
F1’s season has been indefinitely suspended by the global pandemic. Marko, who runs the famous Red Bull programme which brought the likes of Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen into F1, said this period of inactivity was the perfect time for the company’s drivers to contract the virus to ensure they would not fall ill later in the year.
“The idea was to organise a camp where we could bridge this mentally and physically somewhat dead time,” Marko told Austrian TV station ORF. “And that would be the ideal time for the infection to come.
“These are all strong young men in really good health. That way they would be prepared whenever the action starts. And you can be ready for what will probably be a very tough championship once it starts.”
He added: “Let’s put it this way: it has not been well received.”
When approached by ESPN, Red Bull’s F1 team declined to comment on Marko’s quotes.
As well as the Red Bull team of Verstappen and Alex Albon, the Austrian company’s second team Alpha Tauri also competes in F1 with drivers Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly. It also has 10 junior drivers in various categories of racing affiliated to the programme in some way.
As with sports across the globe, F1’s 2020 race calendar has effectively been torn up by the coronavirus pandemic. Seven of the first eight races have been postponed, while the Monaco Grand Prix has been cancelled outright after organisers realised they could not fulfil their original date of May 24.
F1 CEO Chase Carey still hopes to put on 15-18 races this year in a best-case scenario based on starting at some point in the summer. Ongoing talks include the season extending into January next year in order to get through the backlog of rearranged races.
However, former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has suggested the championship will fail to put any races on this year.
Speaking to Reuters about what he would do if he was still in charge, Ecclestone told Reuters: “I think I’d have to say we’re going to close down talk of having any races this year. That’s the only thing you could do safely for everybody so nobody starts making silly arrangements which may not be able to happen.”