Red Bull Motorsport advisor Helmut Marko has never been one to shy away from controversial views, but his latest comments have a particular air of “I’m sorry, what?” to them.
76-year-old Austrian had the bright idea to stick all of the brand’s drivers in one place in the hope that they contract Covid-19 and pass it to one another, building immunity in the process. A little like the chickenpox parties parents of young children hold, if you will.
As quoted by Autosport, Marko told Austrian TV programme ORF:
“We have four Formula 1 drivers and eight or 10 juniors. The idea was to organise 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. 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.
“Let’s put it this way, it has not been well received.”
While Covid-19 has generally been more deadly to older members of the world’s population, there are no guarantees that someone younger and fitter will be able to get over it without complication. Instead of arranging Marko’s potentially dangerous Coronacamp, then, Red Bull’s drivers are using the free time made available by the postponement of F1 2020’s early races by focusing on fitness and sim driving.
“Max [Verstappen], for example, I think he drives more races than in a real season,” Marko said, adding, “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”.
As for how long they have to focus on fitness and virtual racing, we can’t be sure. The season is due to start with the Canadian Grand Prix on 14 June, but since motorsport events beyond that date have already been cancelled, we can’t count on that going ahead as planned.