F1 make vaccination call for staff as CEO Stefano Domenicali raises Covid fears for 2022

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F1 chief Stefano Domenicali has reportedly confirmed that the sport will be pressing ahead with plans to mandate that all team personnel will need to be vaccinated against Covid-19 to gain entry to the paddock from next season. The FIA is set to bring in the rule to help curb the spread of the virus at Grand Prix weekends.

The last two seasons have been hit by the pandemic, with the start of 2020 being delayed while the calendar for both years ended up being rather fluid with cancellations and postponements.

All staff members have been regularly tested, usually with a handful of positive cases discovered before those people leave the paddock to enter quarantine.

In the final few weeks of the season, some of the more high-profile positive tests included Williams chief Jost Capito and Haas driver Nikita Mazepin, who was forced to miss the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Vaccines have so far been left to individuals to make their own decision, but the FIA’s director of operations Bruno Famin suggested earlier this month that the idea of mandatory vaccination was being considered.

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Famin, who is in charge of the FIA’s Covid-19 protocols, said at the race in Abu Dhabi: “In terms of what will happen next year, it’s a bit too early because three weeks ago, we all thought that the pandemic was almost over and 2022 would be just back to normal.

“But unfortunately, with this new variant we have in Europe, the pandemic is increasing a lot and the hospitals are getting full again.

“Hundreds of thousands of people are contaminated every day in Europe and we have to be very careful.

“We know that in some places, in some countries, at some events, mandatory vaccination is progressing, It’s something we may consider, but for the time being nothing has been decided yet.”

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F1 chief executive Domenicali has now suggested that the idea has moved forward and is set to be implemented by the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council.

“There are many issues to discuss with the teams,” he told Autosport.

“We will have the problem of Covid to manage again next year and it will not be easy. But in two years of the pandemic, we have completed some super intense seasons.

“Having finished a season with 22 races, it makes us cautiously optimistic for what the start of the 2022 season should be like, where alas Covid may still be present.

“But it is no coincidence that one of the last things approved in the last FIA World Council, as a precaution, is to have all F1 staff vaccinated to be in the paddock.”

Ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, a video had been released with F1 racers and other high-profile figures promoting the vaccine to fans.

Stars including the likes of champion Max Verstappen, seven-time winner Lewis Hamilton and Domenicali himself appearing, with the latter revealing he had also had his booster jab.

Kimi Raikkonen was the only racer in the 2021 lineup who did not appear in the video.

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