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