CHARLES LECLERC and Valtteri Bottas have been warned by F1 bosses for putting the sport at risk by jetting back to Monaco.
The sport’s governing body, the FIA, wrote to both drivers to remind them about acting responsibly as they attempt to maintain their record of zero positive coronavirus tests.
Drivers, teams, media and operational staff have all signed a Covid code of conduct and, while neither Leclerc or Bottas have broken the rules, their decision to leave their “bubbles” has angered paddock insiders.
Romain Grosjean, who drives for the Haas team, said: “The message was that we had to stay here, so I was a bit surprised to see that people had gone home.”
Leclerc posted pictures on social media of him hugging fans in an art gallery in Monte Carlo after the Austrian GP, where he finished second.
And race-winner Bottas was filmed on a speedboat in the principality celebrating his girlfriend Tiffany Cromwell’s birthday.
Weekend vibes 😎 #VB77 📸 @tiffanycromwell
So good to be back on track !! Back at it tomorrow 🏎 @lennoxracingteam
Both drivers insist they were tested while they were in Monaco, with the results coming back as negative. However, those tests were not part of the FIA’s programme.
The Covid code of conduct says that “any time that attendees spend outside the venue during a covered event or between covered events must be spent with other members of the same group, keeping interaction with persons outside that group to a minimum”.
And while the loosely-worded code does not prohibit them from returning to their homes, the officials have taken a dim view of their decisions.
I found out if it’s allowed to go back, and yes it is.
It is especially concerning as Ferrari have already been reminded about the code of conduct after Sebastian Vettel was pictured in Red Bull’s “bubble” and without wearing a face mask.
Rule 4.4.4 of the code also states that repeat offenders could be referred to the race stewards if “a stakeholder has deliberately or seriously or repeatedly breached the Covid-19 Code”.
Leclerc was quizzed about what he did between the two races at the Red Bull Ring and said: “I did come back home.
“I’ve been tested twice before coming back so in two days, testing twice, both negative. And that’s it.
“Yes, I went back home for two days and then the two tests to be sure of the results.”
When asked the same question, cryptically his Ferrari teammate, Sebastian Vettel said: “I stayed in the bubble…”
Meanwhile Bottas also said he did nothing wrong, adding: “I found out if it’s allowed to go back, and yes it is.
“It doesn’t make a difference if I stay with the same people in the same bubble: whether I’m here or back home in Monaco, so I decided to go back home.”
Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton says the drivers will discuss today whether there will be an opportunity to take a knee before Sunday’s Styrian GP.
He said: “I don’t believe we have the position to do it but it is not my goal to take a knee during a national anthem.”
And F1 chiefs are expected to announce the next races on the 2020 calendar with GPs at Mugello in Italy, Sochi in Russia and Portimao in Portugal likely to be confirmed.