Racing Point’s last-minute rush to replace Lance Stroll for this weekend was triggered by the driver half an hour before the final practice session began.
The team’s CEO Otmar Szafnauer said Stroll has been unwell since the last round of the championship, but repeated tests have shown he does not have Covid-19. He decided not to take part in final practice at the Nurburgring today and was replaced by Nico Hulkenberg ahead of qualifying for the race.
“The pre-event test was Tuesday,” said Szafnauer. “We got the results on Wednesday. He hasn’t been tested since. We’re following the FIA protocol. The next test was either Sunday or Monday.”
“He hasn’t been feeling great since Russia,” Szafnauer added. “Since we left Russia he hasn’t been that great, I think he had a bit of a cold.
“At first we thought well, we were in Russia, we better get tested for the virus. We’ve tested him multiple times, including the pre-event test for this race. He’s come back negative three, four times. He doesn’t have the classic Covid-19 symptoms. He just doesn’t feel well in himself.”
Stroll has suffered “flu-like symptoms” and “couldn’t exercise” since the last race. He experienced further prolonged discomfort as a result of his symptoms yesterday. “I don’t know if it’s something he ate or if it’s a tummy bug or what but he just said I’m not feeling up to it,” said Szafnauer.
The team took into consideration the fact there are two race back-to-back after this weekend’s round.
“I talked to him as said ‘we’re going to have a double-header coming up soon’. He said he’d rather rest and get ready for that. So it was a late call – we were hoping that he was going to get better.”
Stroll took the decision not to participate in final practice just in time for the team to arrange a replacement for qualifying, said Szafnauer.
“[He told us] 30 minutes before FP3. He was still thinking ‘I want to do this’. But then he thought if I don’t get better then I’ve got to qualify, then I’ve got to race, and it’s the race that he really wasn’t looking forward to in the state he was in.
“Otherwise, had it been yesterday, we’d’ve have called Hulkenberg a day earlier and he would have done FP3.”
2020 Eifel Grand Prix