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Marko scolded for 'playing with human lives'

2020-03-31 09:25

TOO MUCH TALK: Red Bull's Helmut Marko believes politics is interfering with Formula 1 as a sport. Image: AFP / Lars Baron

A biochemist has scolded Dr Helmut Marko for "playing with human lives" by contemplating controlled coronavirus infections for Red Bull's drivers.

Marko caused a stir this week by telling the Austrian broadcaster ORF that he tried to put together a training camp for Red Bull's F1 and junior drivers during the global pandemic.

"It was only discussed in a small circle," said Red Bull's top motor racing official.

"It was going to be a camp where we could bridge the time mentally and physically."

Reports indicated that Marko said it would be "ideal" if the virus infects drivers like Max Verstappen while they are "young, strong and healthy".

"Then they would be well prepared for the world championship," the 76-year-old said.

Verstappen, though, told Marko he was "terrified" of being infected.  Marko confirmed: "Let's just say that it (the idea) was not very positively received."

Biochemist Douwe de Boer, who works at Maastricht University, scolded Marko for contemplating "playing with human lives".

"This is a medical-ethical discussion, and I don't think a team boss should want to risk the health of his employee," he told De Limburger newspaper.

The report said de Boer is currently involved in studying the organ function of coronavirus patients at Maastricht hospital.

"The coronavirus is more unpredictable than the normal flu," he said.

"I understand Marko's thinking, as he wants immunity for his drivers.  The government is talking about group immunity, and Marko thinks only of his drivers.

"But with coronavirus, we are seeing that healthy, young people can also become seriously ill and even die."

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