PlayStations, mini footballs and tea bags: How McLaren are coping with quarantine
When it is cold and wet back home in the UK, the prospect of an extended 14-day stay in Australia sounds good. No work either, you say? Even better. There’s a catch, though. You’ve got to stay in your hotel for the whole time. And you obviously can’t see your family at any point. Ah, now it’s less attractive.
But that’s exactly what 14 McLaren team members are currently facing. And they don’t get a choice in the matter. After one of their team mates tested positive for coronavirus, they were placed in self-isolation in their hotel rooms as a precaution, having come into close contact with him.
Racing Director Andrea Stella stayed in Australia to support them, with the rest of their team – and most of their rivals – heading back to the UK. But they were not forgotten.
Before heading to the airport to catch their flights back to the UK, two McLaren team members went on a shopping mission. Their haul included a couple of Playstation 4 games consoles, a Nintendo Switch, a keyboard (of the musical variety), a dartboard and some mini footballs.
And rival team employees who are still in Australia awaiting travel back, have dropped off care packages, including food, drinks and even Yorkshire tea bags.
Evidence that at times like this that the F1 family pulls together.
”It’s great to see how the entire team stuck together in these difficult hours, helping and supporting each other,” said Team Principal Andreas Seidl, who stayed on to support the team before leaving on Saturday night. “I especially want to thank not only my leadership team, who showed their character and coolness under pressure, but people throughout the team who focused on their jobs quietly and efficiently and helped make a difficult situation easier to manage.
"I also want to recognise our team members who have had to stay in Melbourne under quarantine at the moment. This is not an easy situation. Special thanks to our racing director Andrea Stella and his guys, who volunteered to stay Down Under for the next 14 days supporting our guys in quarantine.
“When I talk about our team members, I also want to thank our two great drivers, Carlos [Sainz] and Lando [Norris], who have been obviously concerned about their team mates. We have to keep them physically away from the rest of the team, even though they are both fine, but they are in constant communication."
Seidl also revealed that rival teams had offered to step in and help the team with packing up their garage and equipment in Melbourne.
”We also appreciate our fellow teams in the paddock who offered immediate help on Friday to dismantle the garage and pack the freight, which was obviously a challenge for us missing 14 of our core guys," he said. "This is the spirit of F1 and racing we all embrace.
”I stayed in Melbourne for a few days to support the team but I’m back in Europe now to work with Zak and my leadership on planning how we operate in the weeks ahead, but we already decided the travelling race team definitely stays away from factory for two weeks as a precautionary measure.”
The support they have been getting from their team mates, our partners, members of the F1 community and fans from around the world has been fantastic
McLaren CEO Zak Brown added: “I’m proud of how the whole team, both in Australia and back at base, handled the situation in a moment of real pressure and concern for their colleagues. The focus, calmness and professionalism was outstanding across the team. We had leaders stepping up everywhere and that is testament to our people.
“We had been continually scenario-planning together with the team back in the UK, so we knew what our options were in the event of various outcomes. Andreas and I already agreed that if we had a positive case in the garage there was only one option. As I said before, as a racer it was the hardest decision I’ve had to take but as CEO it was the easiest. Our people come first and Andreas feels very strongly about this too.
”When the news came through on Thursday evening Andreas and I were at dinner with one of our shareholders. We immediately returned to the team hotel to join our race team leadership and while Andreas focused on leading the team, I focused on our board and shareholders, who were absolutely supportive I must say, while informing the other teams, F1 and the FIA.
”I’m happy to report that our team member affected with the virus is recovering well and the symptoms have gone and our people in quarantine are in good spirits. The support they have been getting from their team mates, our partners, members of the F1 community and fans from around the world has been fantastic and our thanks go out to all of them.”
These are uncertain times, but as ever, the F1 paddock pulls together and will battle through this.