Racing Point says it opted against testing Lance Stroll for COVID-19 on the Saturday of the Eifel Grand Prix because his doctor did not believe his symptoms were in line with the coronavirus.
Stroll missed the Eifel Grand Prix race weekend after feeling unwell on Saturday morning, but did not take a test for COVID-19 until he had travelled home on a private jet on Sunday evening. He received a positive result the following Monday but has since recovered and will race at this weekend's Portuguese Grand Prix after isolating and returning a negative test.
However, the sequence of events, which saw Stroll decide not to take part in the Eifel Grand Prix but also decide not to seek a coronavirus test until Sunday evening, raised a number of questions over whether the team had followed the correct procedure.
Under the FIA's COVID Code of Conduct, participants should isolate and take a PCR test if they show coronavirus symptoms. If the test is positive, close contacts must also isolate in order to prevent the spread of the virus.
Stroll had tested negative for COVID-19 on the Tuesday ahead of the weekend, but a positive test on Saturday may have resulted in numerous Racing Point team members not being able to take part in the Eifel Grand Prix weekend, leading to suggestions the team decided not to test Stroll to avoid the risk of disruption to its race.
But in a statement issued on Wednesday, Racing Point team principal Otmar Szafnauer stressed that his team followed FIA protocols and opted not to re-test Stroll based on a consolation with a doctor.
"As stated by Lance on social media this morning, Racing Point can confirm that he tested positive for Covid-19 on Sunday 11th of October," Szafnauer's statement said. "Lance had left the team bubble in Germany on Saturday 10th October as he was unable to compete due to the effect of a recurring stomach upset.
"Lance had first reported an upset stomach during the Russian Grand Prix week and subsequently tested negative for Covid-19 several times, tests taken in line with both the FIA and Racing Point's own protocols.
"He also tested negative before arrival in Germany in the official pre-event test for the Eifel Grand Prix. The upset stomach symptoms returned on Saturday which forced Lance to withdraw from the race and stay in his motorhome away from the paddock.
"He consulted with a doctor who did not believe his symptoms indicated Covid-19 and did not advise a test was necessary. Based on this clinical assessment, at the time there was no requirement to inform the FIA as to the nature of the illness.
"Lance then flew home to Switzerland on a private plane on Sunday morning. In line with Racing Point's enhanced testing protocol, under which all team members are tested on return from a Grand Prix, Lance took a Covid-19 test at home and received a positive result the next day.
"He continued to isolate for ten days from the date of the test, in line with local regulations. He returned a negative test on Monday this week and will travel to the Portuguese Grand Prix."
Changes to the FIA Code of Conduct
Ahead of this weekend's Portuguese Grand Prix, the FIA's Code of Conduct has been updated so that members of the paddock must take a COVID test within 24 hours of arriving at the event.
Previously a test had only been necessary every five days over a race weekend, so if a paddock member had returned a negative test on the Tuesday before travelling to the event, they would not be due another test until the Sunday of the event.
The FIA said the change in procedure is not related to the circumstances surrounding Stroll's positive test, underlining that the onus is on individuals and teams to declare symptoms in such incidences.
It also made clear that Stroll's test in Switzerland was taken privately and was outside of the FIA's jurisdiction.