F1s stance on Covid vaccination for new season amid Novak Djokovic furore

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Formula One boss Stefano Domenicali has confirmed that the FIA World Motor Sport Council have made Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for all personnel in 2022, with the championship unlikely to have the same issues as Novak Djokovic has faced over the past week. The Serbian tennis player eventually won a legal battle in Australia over his visa status, despite being unvaccinated against COVID-19.

The 34-year-old flew into Melbourne last week, hoping to defend his Australian Open title, but was stopped on entry to the country and has been held in detention over threats the government would cancel his visa and deport him back home.

However, after a lengthy battle for the world number one, he has returned to a tennis court in time for the competition.

Ahead of the new season which gets underway in March after two pre-season tests, F1 isn’t expected to visit Australia until the start of April after a two-year break due to the pandemic.

“There are many issues to discuss with the teams,” said F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali. “We will have the problem of COVID to manage again next year and it will not be easy.

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“But two years into the pandemic, we have completed some super-intense seasons and it makes us cautiously optimistic for what the start of the 2022 season should be like, where alas COVID may still be present.

“But it is no coincidence that one of the last things approved in the last FIA World Council, as a precaution, is to have all F1 staff vaccinated to be in the paddock.”

Many drivers have already contracted COVID since the pandemic began, including Lewis Hamilton, who admitted he was suffering from long-term effects this season.

The seven-time world champion was left dizzy on the podium after an intense Hungarian Grand Prix.

“Everything got a bit blurry on the podium,” Hamilton said at the time. “I’ve been fighting all year, really, with staying healthy after what happened at the end of last year.

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“It’s still a battle.”

Hamilton missed the Sakhir Grand Prix at the end of the 2020 season after testing positive for the virus as George Russell stepped in for the champion.

He added: “I haven’t spoken to anyone particularly about it but I think it is lingering.

“I remember when I had it, training’s been different since then, the levels of fatigue that you get, it’s different. Who knows what it is today, maybe it’s hydration, I don’t know. But I’ve definitely not had that experience.

“I had something similar in Silverstone but it’s just way worse.”

Haas driver Nikita Mazepin also had to sit out the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi after testing positive, with most drivers in the field contracting the virus at least once over the last two years.

A statement from F1 confirmed that from February 1 everyone who travels outside the UK is expected to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

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