The Mercedes-AMG F1 team has announced that one of its members has tested positive for COVID-19, ahead of the Eifel Grand Prix at the Nurburgring circuit this weekend. The team did not disclose the identity of the team member but said that it "has been handled and is being handled in line with FIA protocols, working closely with the FIA." This is the first incident of a crew member testing positive since Racing Point driver Sergio Perez was diagnosed as COVID positive in July this year. Previously, a McLaren Racing team member was diagnosed with COVID that prompted the Australian GP season-opener being called off.
We can confirm that a team member has tested positive for COVID-19. This has been handled and is being handled in line with FIA protocols, working closely with the FIA.— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) October 8, 2020
As part of the FIA's protocols, the Mercedes team member has now been isolated. It's unclear though if the member came in contact with others in the team that need to be quarantined as well. However, the absence of a team member does put things off with personnel already restricted under the COVID-19 protocols by the FIA.
Mercedes driver, Lewis Hamilton said, "Naturally, it's sad to hear that, for the guys that work so hard. We've had this week in-between, and those guys work so hard to stay safe and to be here on the weekends. So it's definitely a concern. I can't say what it's going to do to the weekend. We have a lot of great people within our team, it's not just about one person. We'll try and make him proud this weekend, and it's just going to take a different type of work, a lot of work, to make sure that we continue on without any disturbances."
As part of the regular screening process for COVID-19, all paddock personnel and team members need to undergo a test every five days. Since the 2020 season began at the end of June, Formula 1 has had 26 reported COVID-19 cases that have largely included ancillary personnel not belonging to any particular team, F1 or the FIA. The organisers have conducted about 50,000 COVID-19 tests in neary four months now.
F1 has limited the number of personnel for each team while spectators so far have been restricted at the circuits, as part of the safety procedures. The movements within the paddock are also restricted to minimise contact. In addition, there are restrictions on what paddock personnel can do between events when there are races on consecutive weekends.