SA’s Formula One medical driver could lose job over anti-vaccination stance
Monde Motors - South Sudan. Find Used Cars for Sale in Juba, South Sudan at the best prices on our online car bond. To upload your own cars for sale visit
Formula One’s regular medical car driver, South Africa’s Alan van der Merwe, will not be permitted entry into some of the countries set to host the remaining six Grands Prix of the year.
In last Sunday’s race in Turkey, the official medical car occupants, driver Van der Merwe and Dr Ian Roberts, sat out the race after testing positive for Covid-19.
Van der Merwe and Roberts were replaced in Turkey by Formula E’s regular medical car crew of Bruno Correia and Medical Delegate Dr Bruno Franceschini.
Subsequently, Van der Merwe went public to confirm that he is not vaccinated and therefore may have to skip more races in 2021 in countries were it is now a requirement for entry.
“For the avoidance of doubt, if you want to get vaccinated, do it. I’m pro-vaccine for those that want and can have them,” the the 41-year-old Johannesburg-born former racing driver said.
“A difference of opinion is absolutely fine and the point of a discussion. Hate, racism, personal attacks, being told I will hopefully die, trying to get me fired etc., will just get you blocked.
“I’ll continue to adhere to public health guidelines, reduce risk as much as possible, and I’ll respect others’ decisions equally. There doesn’t need to be polarisation or hate involved with every discussion about masks or vaccines.”
Although South African, the former Honda test driver, also claims to be “half-Swiss”, and he pointed out that in Switzerland “prior infection” is counted as having taken a vaccine.
“I trust that those countries know what they’re doing, and also respect countries’ more restrictive rules and (will) not travel there,” said Van der Merwe.
“Vaccines are showing to be safe and effective for the vast majority of people. But what if you’re not in the majority?
“Do you automatically need to be excluded from society?
“Should some people’s health be sacrificed for the greater good of a vaccine rollout?”
Van der Merwe added that he is “fully aware” that his decision could make him “less employable” or limit his “freedom of movement”.
“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,” he concluded.
“From what we understand, there are a couple of countries where you will probably not be allowed to enter unless you are vaccinated,” F1 race director Michael Masi confirmed.
“From that perspective, the FIA obviously has to respect the requirements of each country that we visit, which includes all of the teams and everybody else.”
It is believed van der Merwe will therefore have to sit out the scheduled races in Qatar (21 November), Saudi Arabia (5 December) and Abu Dhabi (12 December).
The other three races in the 2021 calendar still be be raced are in the USA (24 October), Mexico (7 November) and Brazil (14 November).
“Both Alan and Ian were available all weekend on the other end of the phone to help Dr Franceschini and Bruno Correia with their acclimatisation to this role,” said Masi.
Van der Merwe has been the official driver of the FIA medical car in Formula One since 2009.
He was in the news in late 2020 when he was widely credited with saving the life of Frenchman Romain Grosjean after his Haas car burst into flames on the opening lap of the Bahrain Grand Prix.