Perez and Sainz take up Bahrain vaccination offer

Both drivers said that they have decided to take this opportunity as they were unsure when they would get the vaccination in their respective countries.

Sergio Perez (in pic) and Carlos Sainz became the first Formula One drivers to take the vaccine offered by the Bahrain government.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Red Bull's Sergio Perez and Ferrari's Carlos Sainz said on Friday that they have accepted Bahrain's offer of a COVID-19 vaccine, making them the first Formula One drivers to confirm they had done so.

Bahrain is hosting three days of pre-season testing and the opening race on March 28 and has offered doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine to all the teams and Formula One travelling group.

Teams have left it as a matter of personal choice for employees, although the sport itself has said it does not want to jump queues ahead of more vulnerable people.

Mexican Perez, who competed for Racing Point (now Aston Martin) last season, was the first Formula One driver to contract the virus when he missed two races at Silverstone last season.

ALSO READ | Gearbox glitch for Mercedes as Ricciardo goes top in testing

Sainz has moved from McLaren to Ferrari, most of whose team in Bahrain have also taken up the offer with Italy lagging on vaccinations.

"We got offered, I took the decision to take it," Perez told reporters. "For me, back in Mexico, I don't know when I will be able to get it."

Sainz said he had done the same: "I took it. I thought it was a great opportunity and obviously thankful to the Bahrain government for offering it to so many people that travel around the world."

McLaren's Lando Norris, sitting alongside in the briefing, tested positive for the virus in January. The Briton said he had yet to decide on vaccination.

ALSO READ | Aston Martin & Mercedes to share safety and medical car duties this season

Six of the 20 regular race drivers have had COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, the others being seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton, Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly and Aston Martin's Lance Stroll.

Several team bosses have also tested positive, with Alfa Romeo's Frederic Vasseur the latest and unable to travel to Bahrain for testing.