Red Bull sporting director out of Bahrain GP with Covid-19

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Red Bull sporting director Jonathan Wheatley will miss this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix after testing positive for Covid-19.

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The vastly-experienced key pit-wall decision-maker returned a positive test during mandatory pre-race tests and will be isolation for 10-days in line with the sport’s protocols and public health guidelines.

He joins a relatively small group of F1 staff, including drivers, who have been forced to miss race weekends due to the virus as the sport begins a year-ending finale of three successive Grands Prix in the Middle East.

In a statement, the sport’s ruling body, the International Motoring Federation (FIA) said: “The FIA, Formula 1 and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing can confirm that during mandatory pre-race testing for the Bahrain Grand Prix, sporting director Jonathan Wheatley tested positive for Covid-19.”

The FIA said he would self-isolate for “for the full 10-day period and therefore not attend the Bahrain Grand Prix” and added that no other members of the team had tested positive. 

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Briton Wheatley is expected to miss both the Bahrain event this weekend and Sakhir Grand Prix a week later, but may return for the season-ending Abu Dhabi race.

He follows Pirelli boss Mario Isola, Racing Point drivers Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll and team owner Lawrence Stroll together with a group of Mercedes technical staff in testing positive and missing races.

Overall, however, F1 has coped well through the first 14 races of the 17-race season during which strict rules have been operated in the paddock with teams and reporters remaining in ‘bubbles’ and obeying all protocols including regular testing.

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