Racing Point Formula 1 boss Otmar Szafnauer says Sergio Perez did nothing wrong by returning to Mexico between the Hungarian and British Grands Prix.

Perez was ruled out of this weekend’s British Grand Prix after he became the first F1 driver to test positive for COVID-19 since the delayed 2020 season started earlier this month in Austria.

The Mexican revealed he returned to his home country last week to see his mother, who had spent time in hospital after being involved in what Perez described as a “bad accident”.

Despite Mexico being one of the current coronavirus hotspots with around 7,000 new cases confirmed each day, Szafnauer said he had no issue with Perez’s trip.

“I don’t think Checo did anything wrong going back to his family,” said Perez. “He takes all the precautions.

“I think it’s no different than, you know, Ferrari going back to Italy, for example. We've got no clauses in the contract where he's got to ask permission to go back to his family.

"I think his family was in Mexico, and it's not a surprise that he went back to Mexico, that's what he's done forever while he's been driving for us.

"We did though discuss how he was flying there and back, and it was always by a private flight, never commercially. There's no issue with that.

"Hindsight is a wonderful thing. There are many people that are in hotspots all around the world.

"We have a big contingent of our factory who live in Northampton, and you Northampton was shut down as well. So our philosophy is we take all the precautions necessary in light of where we are travelling.

"And if we do take those precautions, I'm confident that we won't get the virus. We just need to now forensically look back and try to ascertain how Checo became infected, and make sure that we cover that off in the future."

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was at the centre of controversy recently when he broke F1’s strict protocols by returning home to Monaco between the two Austria rounds, and Perez’s trip has raised similar questions given it ultimately resulted in him contracting COVID-19.

But Szafnauer stressed the FIA’s COVID-19 code of conduct does not prevent drivers from travelling when there are gaps in the calendar between a run of consecutive races.

"The code, as it's written now, in between the Austrian races and in Hungary we shouldn't have left and gone outside, which our drivers didn't do," said Szafnauer.

"Neither did our team personnel. For example, we had a rule that once we were in Hungary nobody could leave the hotel even if you had a Schengen passport. We treated everybody the same, including the drivers.

"But in between Hungary [and Silverstone], because we had that weekend off, I think everybody went to wherever their families were. I think the Italian teams went back to Italy.

"Probably the Swiss team went back to Switzerland, Pirelli flew everyone back to Italy, and the drivers went to their home countries.

"Like I said, hindsight is a wonderful thing. Perhaps we should look at that, change the code and say throughout the season, you stay within your bubble? I don't know, but that's something for the FIA to consider. I read through the code a couple of times now, and it is a living document.

"So they say at the very beginning: from time to time as we learn this will change, so perhaps that'll change. But I don't think Checo did anything wrong, going back to his family. He takes all the precautions. I think it's no different than Ferrari going back to Italy, for example."

Szafnauer also confirmed that Perez’s assistant and physio are both self-isolating as a precaution despite testing negative for coronavirus.

 

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