Sergio Perez contracted COVID-19 after returning to Mexico between Formula 1 races to visit his mother after an accident, but says he observed safety protocols and has now suffered “one of the saddest days in my career”.
The Racing Point driver has been ruled out of the British Grand Prix and is expected to miss next weekend’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix as well, after becoming the first F1 driver to test positive for the coronavirus.
Perez’s first test result was inconclusive and he remained in isolation after taking a re-test, which yielded a positive result.
While events are ongoing, and especially with back-to-back races like at Silverstone or the season-opener in Austria, F1 personnel trackside are asked to limit their movements and respect ‘bubbles’ during race weekends to minimise the potential to contract the virus.
Personnel may act at their own discretion between races, and Perez has revealed he returned to Mexico to visit his mother who had been in hospital.
In a video posted on his social media channel, Perez said: “I’m extremely sad, definitely one of the saddest days in my career.
Thank you everyone for your support and stay safe! 🙏 pic.twitter.com/9IjDKMaWy3
— Sergio Pérez (@SChecoPerez) July 31, 2020
“The amount of preparation we put into this weekend to be 100% ready for it, I knew I had a great car underneath me, that the team had done a fantastic job.
“I’m really sad that this happened but it just shows how vulnerable we are all to this virus.
“I followed all the instructions from the FIA, from my team after Hungary, took a private plane to go to Mexico to see my mum for two days because she had a big accident.
“So when she left hospital I was able to see her and then I came back to Europe, the same way, with all the protocols in place.”
Perez is currently sixth in the drivers’ championship and would have been a potential podium contender at Silverstone given his team’s performance at the start of the 2020 season.
His seat is expected to be taken by Nico Hulkenberg subject to the German’s own COVID test result.
Perez said he doesn’t know how he contracted the virus, having observed safety guidelines as much as possible around his travels.
He had been described by his team as being physically well, and confirmed he is asymptomatic.
“I have no symptoms at all,” he said. “It shows how vulnerable we are to this.
“I want to thank all my fellow drivers for their support they have given me, my team, the authorities, the fans.
“Certainly a tough moment for me but I’m sure I will come back stronger from this.
“Stay safe, look after yourself and your families, and I hope to see you soon at the race track.”