Formula 1, like essentially every other sport, has seen a chunk of its scheduled season fall apart due to the coronavirus pandemic. Races have been moved or canceled altogether, and the fear is still there that more members of the series could contract COVID-19 as they plan to travel the world later this year. Red Bull Racing motorsport advisor Helmut Marko has addressed the issue previously, though his initial—and radical—idea of purposely exposing his team’s drivers to the sickness failed to garner support within the paddock.
Marko reportedly believed that setting up a “Corona Camp” for the organization during training would prevent them from falling ill in the heat of the delayed championship.
The 76-year-old explained to Austrian television outlet ORF:
“We have four Formula 1 drivers (Max Verstappen, Alex Albon, Pierre Gasly, Daniil Kvyat) and eight or ten juniors. The idea was to organize a camp where we could bridge this—mentally and physically—somewhat dead time. And that would be the ideal time for the infection to come.”
“These are all strong young men in really good health,” he continued.
“That way they would be prepared whenever the action starts, and you can be ready for what will probably be a very tough championship once it starts.”
Understandably so, this concept didn’t go over well with those who’d actually have to deal with the symptoms.
“Let’s put it this way: it has not been well-received”, he added.
Marko explained the gameplan has since been altered to promote physical health and improvement ahead of the season kickoff, whenever that may be. This entails heavy physical regimens and plenty of time on simulators, which seven-time Grand Prix winner Verstappen has hit heavily so far this year.
“Max [Verstappen], for example, I think he drives more races than in a real season. He does sim racing and sometimes competes in several races per day.”
“At the same time they all have their own physio, which they use for fitness exercises. That’s ideal for working out now.”
“If there is a racing season with 15 to 18 races, it will be very, very tough. There is no possibility to improve your fitness during the season. So it’s actually ideal to use this time now.”
Alas, COVID-19 is far removed from the chickenpox and the approach of “get it before it gets you” doesn’t quite work in this situation.
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