Despite having contracted the virus last year, van der Merwe tested positive just before the Turkish Grand Prix, as did medical delegate Ian Roberts. Both, therefore, were placed in solitary confinement and were unable to leave for Istanbul.
Van der Merwe later confirmed on social media that he was not vaccinated against COVID-19 for personal reasons.
To gain access to Qatar and Saudi Arabia, however, it will be necessary to show the confirmation of the vaccination, as it is understood that the same should apply to access the Abu Dhabi paddock area.
Van der Merwe is therefore one of the many Formula 1 members who regularly participate in races, but who will not be able to be present in the last three events of the season.
He used Twitter to explain the reasons for his personal choices, confirming that he expects to have to miss some races.
“In Switzerland (I’m half-Swiss) and other developed countries, the previous infection counts as a vaccine,” he wrote. “I trust that those countries know what they are doing, but I also respect countries with more restrictive rules and I will not go there.”
He added: “I am fully aware that I may be potentially unusable and that my freedom of movement will be limited based on my choices. But I will not choose convenience over my health, even if it does not mean that I am making selfish decisions. . We all want to be healthy. “
The Medical car on track
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
Race director Michael Masi confirmed that the restrictions will prevent some Formula 1 staff members from being present at those races.
“From what we understand, there are a couple of countries that it won’t be possible to enter unless you are vaccinated,” Masi said when asked about the situation by Motorsport.com. “Which in the end is no different from those parts of the world where you may not be allowed to enter the country unless you are vaccinated against malaria.”
“You have to meet certain requirements. And, from that point of view, the FIA is obviously required to respect them to enter them, as will all the teams and other insiders.”
Masi explained that both members of the Medical Car tested positive and therefore there was no precautionary quarantine case.
“If one tested positive and the other negative, he would have shown up. But sadly they both tested positive. The only thing the two can assume is that they spent a lot of time in the car together in Russia.”
Van der Merwe and Roberts were replaced in Turkey by the crew occupying the Medical Car in Formula E: at the wheel was Bruno Correia, flanked by Doctor Bruno Franceschini.
Masi explained that the uncertainties of the COVID era, F1 was ready for replacement should the need arise: “The good thing is that I talked to both Ian and Alan over the weekend and they are quite well. So they were also available. to help the two Bruno to acclimate to this role if necessary “.
“In general, we are very lucky, because all the referees of the FIA championships talk a lot to each other. You have seen Eduardo Freitas, the race director of the WEC, who did the race director in Portimao, but also Scott Elkins and Niels Wittich, who are the Formula E race director and his deputy, who have done a number of events as my deputies. “
“So it’s quite normal for us to work together. And it’s the same for the doctors. Bruno Correia, for example, has been one of the consultants for the F2 and F3 drivers this season.”
“We are actually a big family and it’s great that both of us have been able to be so available at short notice. And they have always been a sort of first reserve in case something like this happens. Which obviously neither of us is hoping for.”