Ferrari downplay F1 decision to reduce frequency of Covid-19 testing

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Ferrari has downplayed Formula 1's decision to test all personnel for coronavirus every five days rather than the initial two that was proposed.

With just a week to go until the new season begins in Austria, several teams have been on track adapting to the 'new normal' garage protocols that will limit the risk from Covid-19.

Regular testing though is considered one of the best ways of keeping the virus in check, and Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies remains sure the agreed level is more than sufficient.

“No, it’s very far from that," he told GPFans on if the five-day frequency was a way of reducing the potential for a positive test.

"There will be tests during the Grand Prix weekend if anybody has symptoms.

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“Having followed as a team all these iterations, there have been 20 versions of our procedures and, because it’s a fast-changing environment, and in trying to find the right compromise, we think we are operating well above any national or employment law with the procedures that have been set out by the FIA and F1.

“Yes, we did talk about testing every two days at some stage, but it’s been relaxed to five days. I think you will see other iterations of the protocol in the coming weeks, I hope in the same direction of relaxing some of these things.

“But if you look at the big picture, we are operating in such a long way to being as safe as possible, that the change between two and five days is not a player.”

The word you must often hear when it comes to F1's restart plan is 'bubble', as each team is being kept in their own individual group to prevent the potential of a paddock-wide Covid-19 outbreak.

“The Formula 1 paddock will be a bubble in such a way that the same restrictions, the same procedures will be applied to everybody that turns up there,” Ferrari's Mekies explained.

“Inside the bubble of the Formula 1 paddock will be an individual bubble for each team with pretty much no, or minimum interactions between one team and another. So you will not see people from a team having a casual chat with people from another team.

“And inside the team bubble there will be more bubbles – the Car 16 bubble [Charles Leclerc] and the Car 5 bubble [Sebastian Vettel] – and inside them engineers and mechanics and so on and so so forth.

“Why? In order to be as resilient as possible if there is, unfortunately, a positive case to ensure the number of people that came into contact with that individual is as minimal as possible.”

While the new environment is something teams can adapt to quite easily, even if some operations may be slower than usual, the one aspect that personnel may struggle with is the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

"Here at Ferrari it’s compulsory, so we wear it (the mask) at all times in the factory... but it’s one thing to wear it in the office environment, another to wear it when it would be 40 degrees at the racetrack," said the sporting director.

"We are trying to put in place a number of measures, in terms of breathing exercises and having some break to those guys, to do breathing exercises and to be keeping in the best possible shape."