FIA drops COVID vaccination requirement in 2023

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB16B. 12.12.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 22, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Race
© XPB 

Formula 1's governing body, the FIA, has confirmed that it is dropping more health and safety protocols originally aimed at preventing the spread of COVID within the paddock at race weekends.

The strict measures were introduced in 2020 when the pandemic first emerged, and allowed the sport to get back to racing albeit in a delayed and curtailed fashion.

But with cases now diminishing worldwide, and countries revising their own COVID precautions, the sport now feels that it can take another step back to normal next season.

The original requirements included a ban on any non-essential personnel (including media) at events, as well as mandatory testing and wearing masks for everyone in the paddock.

These mandates have been slowly dropped in 2021 and 2022, and next year will end the requirement for everyone in ‘high density areas’ such as the paddock, pit lane and race control to provide proof of vaccinations.

The only alternative to certification of two doses of a WHO-recognised vaccine would be to provide evidence of a recognised medical exemption - otherwise personnel were at risk of being excluded from events.

Following the latest meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Bologna on Wednesday, it was confirmed that this requirement would not apply in 2023.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR), Mercedes AMG F1 12.12.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 22, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Race

It also announced that the FIA will no longer organise on-site testing facilities that have been a feature of the paddock since July 2020.

Instead, the FIA will “inform stakeholders about test facilities available locally to venues” for those who need to get tested over a race weekend.

However, those who do present with COVID symptoms, or who have a positive test result, will still not be allowed to enter the high density areas during race weekends.

That means that drivers who test positive for the virus will still have to miss the race and be replaced by reserve drivers.

A number of drivers including Sebastian Vettel, Lance Stroll and Lewis Hamilton have missed races in the past after testing positive for COVID. Others including Charles Leclerc and Daniel Ricciardo also fell foul of the virus.

Although the requirement to wear masks in the paddock was dropped for 2022, Hamilton continued to mask up for races early in the year saying it was a 'personal choice'.

"I want to be able to get up and train and do the things I love doing and I try, if I can, to keep the people I love around me safe when I can when I’m around them."

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