Carlos Sainz reveals Covid-19 health fears as Formula 1 season gets set to start

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The season begins this weekend in Austria with a double-header at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, with the first race being held on July 5 and the second taking place on the following weekend.

Safety precautions will be in place for the sport’s return — masks will be worn and teams must stay in their “bubbles.” The McLaren outfit has been tested every Monday over the last month, but Sainz still worries about the possibility of contracting Covid-19.

“You might have Covid-19 and you don’t even know you have it and don’t even have symptoms or someone in the team doesn’t even have symptoms and they have it and you might miss a race because of that,” the 25-year-old told CNN Sport’s Amanda Davies in an Instagram Live chat.

“And after four months of not racing and of wanting to go racing, suddenly you are perfectly well and healthy but you have tested positive for Covid-19 so cannot race in Formula 1, after four months, it would be a horrible feeling and something that I want to take care of not happening.

“You might as well get it from pure bad luck and you can’t do anything against it, you just have to skip a couple of races because of that. But the worst part of it would be to feel perfect, feel like you feel now, have Covid-19 in your system or in your blood, and not being able to race.”

‘We’ll miss the fans’

No fans will be in attendance for the opening rounds of the 2020 season, but F1 boss Chase Carey believes it is possible a 15-18 race season can still be completed.

Racing without fans will affect the moments “before and after the race,” says Sainz, but when it comes to the racing itself, the McLaren driver believes it’ll be business as usual.

“Those moments when you’re doing the drivers parade when you see the full grandstand, those moments when you go into a track and you see everything full of fans supporting you, shouting out your name, it fills you with energy and good vibes,” said Sainz, who will replace Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari in 2021.

“And not having that is going to be sad and for sure different. There’s not going to be a lack of motivation. Motivation will be extremely high and we’re going to be ready.”

Sainz drives for McLaren during day three of F1 Winter Testing in Barcelona.

Taking a stand

F1 has attempted to make strides in addressing issues of diversity following George Floyd’s death and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests across the world.

It announced the start of its own #WeRaceAsOne initiative, set up to tackle “the biggest issues facing the sport and global communities — the fight against COVID-19 and the condemnation of racism and inequality.”

Mercedes also announced their cars will don a black livery for the 2020 season as a statement that the reigning champions “stand against racism and all forms of discrimination.”

Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas will also wear all-black overalls, as opposed to their usual all-white uniforms. Hamilton has said he also plans to set up a commission in his name to increase diversity in motorsport.
Sainz prepares to drive during first practice at Silverstone.

When asked whether the drivers were considering taking a knee ahead of the first race of the season, Sainz admitted that they were “thinking about it.”

Sainz says he has “never seen racism in first person,” though the McLaren driver is actively searching for ways in which he can help make a positive impact.

“That doesn’t mean racism doesn’t exist in the world. So I acknowledge that, I admit it might exist even though I haven’t seen it and I want to inform myself and see what we can do to improve the situation.”

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