Scuderia Ferrari F1 driver Charles Leclerc is the latest high-profile athlete to test positive for COVID-19. He made the announcement via social media on Thursday, and assured fans that he is "feeling OK" and is experiencing only "mild symptoms."
Leclerc is currently self-isolating back home in Monaco, but is believed to have been spending time in Dubai over the past few weeks. McLaren driver Lando Norris also tested positive in Dubai last week, and is believed to still be self-isolating in the UAE. It is unclear if the pair had contact with one another.
Leclerc revealed that he had come in contact with a positive case but did not name the person. He subsequently tested positive himself during a routine test that F1 drivers regularly undertake.
In his statement, the Ferrari driver wrote, "I hope you are all staying safe. I want to let you know that I have tested positive for Covid-19. I am regularly checked according to my team's protocols. Unfortunately I learned that I have been in contact with a positive case and immediately went into self-isolation, notifying anyone I had contact with."
"A subsequent test I took has come back positive. I am feeling OK and have mild symptoms. I will remain in isolation in my home in Monaco in compliance with the regulations set by the local health authorities. Stay safe and take care," he said. but did not reveal if his girlfriend, Charlotte Siine, also tested positive. She spent the New Year holidays with him in Dubai.
The Scuderia Ferrari F1 team also released a statement:
Leclerc is now the fifth F1 driver to test positive for COVID-19. During the 2020 season, Racing Point teammates Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll both tested positive on separate occasions and missed races. World Champion Lewis Hamilton also tested positive and missed one race while he was recovering.
Other people across the F1 organisation tested positive as well, despite efforts to curb the spread of infection by limiting travel and the number of people present during race weekends. The season was mostly staged without any spectators save for limited entry to a few events. However, with drivers and personnel essentially free to go home and move around in between races, they were unable to maintain a bio-secure bubble.
The 2021 season has already been affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic as well. The start of the season has been delayed, after the season-opening Australian Grand Prix announced its postponement last week. The race was initially scheduled to take place in late March.