The 2020 Eifel Grand Prix took place on the weekend of 9th – 11th October 2020, and saw Racing Point’s Lance Stroll step away from his RP20 for the weekend car due to an illness that he suffered on the Friday night.
Nico Hulkenberg was called to replace a Racing Point driver for the second time this year, with the first being at the two British Grand Prix when Sergio Perez contracted the Coronavirus. The German was replaced at Renault by Esteban Ocon for the 2020 season, and wasn’t able to find a team to sign to for the first season of the new decade. Being called to two weekends so suddenly proved to be a tough challenge for Hulkenberg, as he hasn’t driven a car or trained in months – meaning the strain on his neck was tough to overcome.
The initial news of Lance Stroll’s illness explained that the Canadian had a stomach bug, and he had woken up unwell on the morning of qualifying. He had spoken to Racing Point’s team principal – Otmar Szafnauer – and explained that he didn’t feel well enough to drive, which is when Nico Hulkenberg received a phone call.
This morning, Lance Stroll explained exactly what happened during the weekend, and how his ‘illness’ turned out to be COVID-19.
“To fill you in on what happened, I arrived at the Nürburgring after testing negative in the normal pre-race tests,” explained Stroll in a Twitter post. “On Saturday morning I started to feel unwell and woke up with an upset stomach. I followed the FIA protocol and self-isolated in my motorhome, and did not re-enter the paddock.”
“I was unfit to race, so I flew home early Sunday morning. As I was still feeling under the weather, I took a COVID test on Sunday evening. The next day; the results came back positive, so I stayed at home self-isolating for 10 days. Luckily my symptoms were pretty mild.”
Formula One fans have questioned the FIA for their protocol for COVID-19 after reading that Stroll caught a plane home on Sunday morning. A particular fan made a point on Twitter, saying “I’m glad you are feeling better but really should have been tested before you left on the plane” – suggesting that the protocol in place put flight crew, pilots, taxi drivers and others at risk when the 21-year old had symptoms of the virus.
Lance Stroll claimed that he was tested again on Monday 19th October and the results came back as ‘negative’. The Racing Point driver is feeling “in great shape” and “can’t wait to be back with the team and to race in Portugal.”
Formula One returns to Portugal for the first time since 1996 this weekend, and is set to be a great challenge for the drivers in the 2020 cars. The circuit features steep elevation changes and some blind corners, which will see some exciting racing over the weekend.