May is already a big month for racing – the Indy 500, NASCAR’s Coke 600 and the Monaco Grand Prix all land on the same day. But there’s a new race on the calendar for the merry month of May: the still-controversial Miami Grand Prix. There’s a new wrinkle in those plans, though, as both of Formula 1’s newly-hired race directors have tested positive for COVID-19, which could force them to sit out the race on May 8th.
On Wednesday, Sky Sports 1 reported that F1 race directors Eduardo Freitas and Niels Wittich had both tested positive for COVID shortly after the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Italy wrapped up. Reuters later confirmed the reports.
Freitas and Wittich share the role previously held by Michael Masi, who was let go after a probe into his controversial decision at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that led to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen clinching the Drivers Championship.
International travelers are required to provide a negative COVID test no more than one day before their arrival in the U.S., according to CDC guidelines. Given the timing of their positive tests, it’s possible that one, if not both race directors would still be testing positive within that timeframe.
With both race directors potentially barred from the upcoming grand prix, fans are speculating that this unforeseen event could lead to the (temporary) return of Michael Masi. Some more likely rumored replacements include Herbie Blash (who serves as Freitas and Wittich’s permanent senior advisor), Colin Haywood (who acted as Deputy Race Director for this year’s Bahrain Grand Prix), or current Formula E race director Scot Elkins.
We’ve reached out to Formula 1 and the FIA for comment, and will update this article if they do, in fact, begin commenting.