Helmut Marko wanted Red Bull’s F1 drivers to deliberately catch coronavirus | Sport

Red Bull motorsport chief Helmut Marko has revealed he suggested the team’s drivers should try to become infected with coronavirus as it is the “ideal time” with the season on hold.

The start of the 2020 F1 season has been decimated by the global pandemic, with the opening six races of the year either cancelled or postponed. As things stand, the first grand prix of a truncated season will be in Canada on 14 June but that will almost certainly change in the coming days.

In the meantime, Marko told Austrian television station ORF that he came up with a plan in which his Red Bull driver pairing Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon – as well as the AlphaTauri duo Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat – contract Covid-19 in an attempt to have them fit and healthy when the season finally begins.

“We have four Formula One drivers and eight or 10 juniors,” he said. “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.”

Asked how his vision was taken by Red Bull chiefs, he added: “Let’s put it this way, it has not been well received.”

Marko, 76, believes he may have already had the coronavirus – although he has not been tested – and praised the effort of Red Bull and other F1 teams in helping to build much-needed ventilators to support the NHS.

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“I had what I thought was a severe cold and the symptoms would match corona,” he added. “It was also something that I had never had in this intensity. I don’t know if it was because the test options are currently very limited but as soon as there is a chance, I would like to be tested afterwards.

“We are producing ventilators. This is the big plus of Formula One, that you can react to the greatest technological challenges in the shortest possible time and also have the necessary speed in production.”

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