Formula 1 is one of the highest classes of international motor racing. Much to fans’ disappointment, the FIA canceled the 2021 Grand Prix in Japan due to COVID-19. Given the importance of health and the current global pandemic, you might be wondering if formula 1 drivers are vaccinated.
For the year 2022, Formula 1 drivers will be required to be vaccinated for the new season. This mandate will apply to all drivers and personnel and is a step none major sports have taken yet. However, it is believed that most formula 1 drivers are already vaccinated.
Covid-19 has disrupted many people’s lives, including sportspeople. Many Formula 1 drivers contracted Covid-19 last year. As the cases seem to be lowering, let us look at who needs to be vaccinated, why it is important, and who is exempt from getting vaccinated.
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Formula One’s Mandatory Vaccination Policy
After COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic, Formula 1 was one of the first sports to open. However, in 2020, many races were canceled and disrupted due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Given Covid-19 and the health risks that come with it, the governing body of Formula 1 (the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) has decided in February 2021 to introduce a mandatory vaccination policy that will apply to everyone at racing events.
It was already a requirement for formula 1 drivers to be fully vaccinated to enter the United States for the 2021 Grand Prix in Texas. Thus, most if not all of the drivers are already fully vaccinated. Previously formula 1 adopted a bubble system and regular testing for COVID-19 to reduce the risks. However, many drivers still contracted the virus, causing many to miss events or events to be canceled.
The severity of COVID-19 ultimately led to the mandatory vaccination policy that will be implemented for the 2022 season. A pre-season session will be held in Spain from 23 to 25 February 2022. An official test session will occur from 10 to 12 March 2022 in Bahrain.
Formula 1 is the first major sport to introduce a mandatory vaccine policy that will apply to staff and drivers. All other sports currently require staff to be vaccinated but not sports players.
The Vaccination Policy Applies To Everyone
Everyone will need to be vaccinated, not just the drivers. All staff, media, hospitality guests, and celebrities will need to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 at race events. Currently, most drivers are already vaccinated.
Hopefully, the mandatory vaccination policy will relax some of the heavy restrictions that have been placed at race events since the start of the pandemic. Each country’s government’s COVID-19 policies and regulations will be followed when the event is held there.
There Will Be No Exemptions For The Vaccine
At present, it is understood that no exemptions will be made by the Formula 1 board for people who do not wish to get vaccinated. Having already contracted Covid-19 in the past will not exempt anyone from the mandatory vaccination policy.
Naturally, there are those opposed to the mandatory vaccine. South African Formula 1’s medical car driver, Alan van der Merwe, has announced that he has not yet received the vaccine. It is understood that he does not intend to due to personal reasons. He has contracted the virus twice and will be missing several races as he has already. He is well known for the heroic act that saw him running into a fiery crash in the Bahrain Prix in 2020 to rescue Romain Grosjean.
The vaccination policy also came after Novak Djokovic was deported and his Australian visa canceled. Australia has strict regulations regarding vaccinations, and Djokovic was deported because of his refusal to get vaccinated. It is believed that his ban from the country will last three years.
Formula 1 drivers and staff were warned to get fully vaccinated before the Australian Grand Prix to avoid a repeat of what happened to Djokovic. To attend the event in Australia, you must be 100% vaccinated. There are no exceptions to this rule. It is believed that mandatory vaccination will be written into all sporting regulations in Australia.
Importance of Vaccinations For Formula 1 Drivers
Last year, Formula 1 drivers were particularly susceptible to contracting Covid-19. It is believed that this is due to the international character of the sport. Unlike domestic sports like rugby, football, basketball, and tennis, motorsport championships face extreme challenges during the pandemic.
The staff and drivers come in contact and interact with numerous people. Travelling is also a necessity, which puts them at high risk for contracting covid due to their interaction with many people.
It seems as if most in the motor racing sports industry agree with the board’s step to require vaccination. In December 2021, formula 1 drivers released a video clip urging people to get vaccinated. This video features drivers Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Lando Norris, George Russell, Fernando Alonso, Mick Schumacher, and Formula 1’s CEO, Stefano Domenicali.
Lewis Hamilton is a seven-time world champion and was among those who tested positive for COVID-19 in Dubai in December 2021. He also suffered from long Covid-19 symptoms last year. Hamilton was seen struggling physically after his race during the Hungarian Grand Prix. He suffered from fatigue and dizziness long after he contracted COVID-19.
One of the first sports to open after COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic was Formula 1. It is also one of the first sports that will implement a mandatory vaccination policy. Not only will drivers be required to be fully vaccinated, all staff, media, guests, etc., will need to be fully vaccinated at race events.
Due to the international nature of Formula 1, people are at a high risk of contracting COVID-19. The board has made the decision to tackle this by requiring that everyone be fully vaccinated. Although there will be those who do not agree with this policy, it seems the best way to protect most people from getting sick at events.