The vaccination status of Italian F1 personnel, who received their Pfizer coronavirus vaccine in Bahrain, is tied up in red tape due to administrative gaps in Italy’s Covid-19 vaccine recognition programme.
During a three-week period in March, when pre-season testing and the season-opening Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix took place, Bahrain offered all F1 personnel an opportunity to get fully inoculated against Covid-19 with the double-dose Pfizer vaccine.
Motorsport.com reported that Italian nationals who took the vaccine in Bahrain have not yet received a QR code from their national government to reflect their vaccination status, which is becoming increasingly important with a number of global F1-hosting countries requiring this code for entrance to restaurants or events.
“The issue is related to the recognition of the vaccine at a national level in Italy,” a well-placed source familiar with the situation told the GDN.
“Vaccines administered in Bahrain have already been recognised at a local government level in Italy and we are working to resolve this at a national level.”
When contacted, the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) declined to comment.
Thus far, Formula 1 staff have not been refused entry because of the organisation’s Covid-19 bubble system, but this may change in the second half of the 2021 F1 season, as vaccinations become more widespread and countries start to require them for entry at local venues.
The situation affects Italian nationals across the motorsport, and especially personnel in the Scuderia Ferrari and Scuderia AlphaTauri teams, both of which call Italy home, with bases located in Maranello and Faenza, respectively.
F1’s official tyre-supplier Pirelli is also head-quartered in Milan, Italy.
In March, AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost had confirmed during pre-season testing that all members of his team had received their Pfizer jabs.
“We are very grateful to Bahrain for this opportunity,” he told reporters at the time
“In Europe, we don’t know how long we would have had to wait. Since the health of my team is my responsibility, we decided to get it done here.”
Italy’s Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper had reported that 90 per cent of Ferrari staff in Bahrain had accepted the offer of the Pfizer vaccine on arrival, though the team itself did not comment.
A number of members of international media also took Bahrain up on its offer and got inoculated at the McLaren centre right outside the BIC.
“Because I am here for 22 days, I can get the first jab today and jab two on the day before I travel,” Australian F1 photographer Kym Illman revealed on his YouTube channel after the vaccination.
“The jab was provided at no charge. Going forward, I think the F1 vaccination certificate will certainly help with my travels this year. It’ll enable me to get into countries, perhaps a little easier than it would be, had I not been able to get the vaccine.
“To be able to get the vaccine within a couple of days of landing in Bahrain, compliments of the Health Ministry, is a real weight off my mind and I take my hat off to the Bahrainis for doing that.”
Bahrain’s Health Ministry and the BIC had offered vaccines to all participants ahead of the pre-season testing from March 12-14, with the second jab 21 days later, after the March 28 grand prix.
The Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) and Formula 1 had revealed, in a statement, that between March 22 and 28, a total of 8,150 PCR tests were performed on drivers, teams and personnel.
“Of these, 12 people tested positive,” the statement said.