Top European racing official suggests drivers infect themselves with coronavirus

Red Bull motorsport adviser Helmut Marko, 76, admitted his idea "was not accepted positively."
Image: Helmut Marko at the F1 Winter Testing Circuit in Barcelona on Feb. 27, 2020.
Helmut Marko at the Formula One Winter Testing Circuit in Barcelona, Spain, on Feb. 27, 2020.Bryn Lennon / Formula 1 via Getty Images file

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By David K. Li

A prominent European auto racing official suggested Sunday that his drivers should huddle and infect themselves with coronavirus to build immunity.

But Red Bull motorsport adviser Helmut Marko admitted that his far-fetched proposal about the deadly virus was quickly shot down.

"We have four Formula One drivers, we have eight or 10 juniors, and the idea was to hold a camp where we could bridge this rather dead time mentally and physically," Marko told the Austrian public broadcaster ORF.

"And then it would be ideal, because these are all young, strong men in really good health if the infection comes then. Then they would be equipped, if it starts up again, for a really hard world championship."

Marko said the idea "was not accepted positively" by fellow Red Bull team leaders and was dismissed.

Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

Marko, 76, who raced in the early 1970s, acknowledged that his age made him more vulnerable to COVID-19, the disease associated with the coronavirus.

"I belong to the high-risk group, but I'm not frightened. I respect it," he said.

Formula One races in Australia, Bahrain, Vietnam, China, the Netherlands, Spain, Monaco and Azerbaijan have all been postponed because of the pandemic. The Grand Prix Du Canada, set for the streets of Montreal on June 12-14, is still on the schedule for now.

Associated Press contributed.