Formula One is set to remove the requirement of COVID vaccination to enter the paddock, for the upcoming 2023 season. But F1 will still stick to its stance regarding drivers racing with a positive COVID test. After the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the FIA introduced a set of protocols to limit the risk of spreading the virus.
Some of these regulations were removed in 2021, which included permitting media and outside personnel to the paddock. In 2022, further relaxation was introduced which saw the end of mandatory testing and wearing masks.
A statement was issued in the latest FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting in Bologna where the organisation confirmed that further steps will be taken to reduce the number of restrictions for next year. This takes away the need to be vaccinated against COVID or have a medical exemption for working in so-called ‘high-density areas’ like the paddock, pit lane, and race control.
The statement released by the FIA, as reported by Peter Leung, said, "The FIA continues to evolve the COVID-19 protocol in line with the changes in the status of the global pandemic. Accordingly, it is proposed to relax the COVID-19 protocol for Formula 1 2023 season."
“Those who show symptoms or test positive for COVID-19 will not be allowed to enter "high-density areas" of the paddock. However, attendees will no longer have to be vaccinated or show proof of vaccination to enter these areas. FIA-provided on-site testing will also conclude,” the statement continued.
These relaxations also allow the former Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg to make a return to the F1 paddock. Rosberg didn’t take the COVID vaccine and hence wasn’t given access to the paddock. The 37-year-old has been a major member of the Sky Sports F1 team and hence was a part of the coverage remotely. But the 2023 season could see the German F1 Champion making a return to the paddock with the vaccine restrictions removed.