Helmut Marko suggested Red Bull drivers should deliberately catch coronavirus

Red Bull motorsport chief Helmut Marko has revealed he suggested the team's drivers should try to become infected with coronavirus as it is the "ideal time" with the season on hold.

The start of the 2020 F1 season has been decimated by the global pandemic, with the opening six races of the year either cancelled or postponed.

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Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands poses for a photo at the Australian Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne, Thursday, March 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
Red Bull driver Alexander Albon of Thailand poses for a photo at the Australian Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne, Thursday, March 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
Red Bull driver Alexander Albon of Thailand steers his car during the Formula One pre-season testing session at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, outside Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Feb. 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)
Pit crew work on the car of Red Bull driver Alexander Albon of Thailand during the Formula One pre-season testing session at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, outside Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Feb. 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, front, of the Netherlands and Williams driver Nicholas Latifi of Canada steer their cars during the Formula One pre-season testing session at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, outside Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands steers his car during the Formula One pre-season testing session at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, outside Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands looks at his car on the track during the Formula One pre-season testing session at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, outside Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands gets out of his car on the track during the Formula One pre-season testing session at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, outside Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)
#33 Max Verstappen Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Honda. Formula 1 World championship 2020, Winter testing days #1 2020 Barcelona, 21-02-2020 Photo Federico Basile / Insidefoto /Sipa USA
Red Bull's Max Verstappen during day three of pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona - Catalunya.
Christian Horner, Team Red Bull Racing Principal in the pit lane during the afternoon session of the second day of F1 Test Days in Montmelo circuit. (Photo by Javier Martinez de la Puente / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
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As things stand, the first grand prix of a truncated season will be in Canada on June 14, but that will almost certainly change in the coming days.

In the meantime, Marko told Austrian television station ORF that he came up with a plan to see the likes of Red Bull driver pairing Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon – as well as AlphaTauri duo Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat – contract COVID-19 in an attempt to have them fit and healthy when the season finally begins.

Max Verstappen finished third in the F1 drivers' championship last year.
Max Verstappen finished third in the F1 drivers' championship last year. (David Davies/PA)

"We have four Formula One drivers and eight or 10 juniors," he said.

"The idea was to organise a camp where we could bridge this mentally and physically somewhat dead time and that would be the ideal time for the infection to come.

"These are all strong young men in really good health. That way they would be prepared whenever the action starts.

"And you can be ready for what will probably be a very tough championship once it starts."

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Asked how his vision was taken by Red Bull chiefs, he added: "Let's put it this way, it has not been well received."

Marko, 76, believes he may have already had the coronavirus – although he has not been tested – and praised the effort of Red Bull and other Formula One teams in helping to build much-needed ventilators to support the NHS.

We're uniting with other UK-based #F1 teams in response to the UK Government's call for assistance with the manufacture of medical devices. More here 👇

— Aston Martin Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) March 27, 2020

"I had what I thought was a severe cold and the symptoms would match corona," he added.

"It was also something that I had never had in this intensity. I don't know if it was because the test options are currently very limited but as soon as there is a chance, I would like to be tested afterwards.

"We are producing ventilators. This is the big plus of Formula 1, that you can react to the greatest technological challenges in the shortest possible time and also have the necessary speed in production."

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