Formula One’s South African medical car driver REPLACED for 2022 season
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Eagle-eyed Formula One fans would’ve noticed that there has been a new medical car driver for the first two races of the 2022 season.
Portugal’s Bruno Correia has taken over from South Africa’s Alan van der Merwe, an FIA spokesperson confirmed to the RN365 website.
Van der Merwe started driving the medical car at Grands Prix in 2009 and was in recent years joined in the passenger seat by Dr Ian Roberts, the FIA F1 Medical Rescue Co-Ordinator and Deputy Medical Delegate.
However, at the 2022 season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, Formula E Safety Car driver Correia took over at the wheel.
However, Correia will not do duty at all 22 of the scheduled races this season as he has other commitments.
Alan van der Merwe is not vaccinated against Covid-19
The change comes after Van der Merwe and Roberts both missed last year’s Turkish Grand Prix after testing positive for Covid-19.
The FIA nominated Correia for duty during the Istanbul Park event, after which it emerged – as reported by The South African website at the time – that Van der Merwe had not been vaccinated against the virus, putting his attendance in doubt.
“I am fully aware that I will potentially be less employable or that my freedom of movement will be restricted based on my choices,” the Swiss-South African wrote on social media.
“That I will not choose convenience over my own health does not mean I am making decisions out of selfishness. We all just want to be healthy.”
With the FIA’s strict Covid protocols in place this year demanding that all F1 passholders be fully vaccinated to the standards of their home country, Van der Merwe’s stance means he is no longer eligible for Medical car duties.
Meanwhile, Germany’s Bernd Maylander will continue to drive F1’s Safety Car.
The third race of the 2022 Formula One season will take place in Australia on Sunday, 10 April.