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Marko denies wanting to 'deliberately' infect drivers

Marko denies wanting to 'deliberately' infect drivers
© Reuters
Dr Helmut Marko has denied reports that he wanted Red Bull's racing drivers to be "deliberately" infected with coronavirus.

Dr Helmut Marko has denied reports that he wanted Red Bull's racing drivers to be "deliberately" infected with coronavirus.

The energy drink company's top motorsport chief caused a stir with comments he made recently to the Austrian broadcaster ORF.

He suggested drivers including Max Verstappen and Alex Albon should attend a training camp during the global shutdown and it would be "ideal" if they were infected with coronavirus to become immune.

But Red Bull Racing team boss Christian Horner told the BBC it was a "throwaway comment before understanding the seriousness of the pandemic".

"It has never been discussed or tabled as a serious suggestion," he said.

On Twitter, former Ferrari driver Felipe Massa called Marko's proposal "completely insane".

But like Horner, Marko has also clarified his comments. He tells Auto Bild that it is "of course not true" that he wanted Red Bull's drivers to be knowingly infected with Covid-19.

"It wasn't about deliberately infecting anybody," said the 76-year-old.

Marko believes he survived a coronavirus infection in February.

"If people my age - the highest risk group of all - can survive this disease, then you can certainly say that young athletes like our racing drivers should at least be less afraid of the consequences," he said.

"That was the only reason why we considered organising the training camp despite the danger from the virus. There was never any talk of deliberate infection."

The plain-speaking Austrian says the media has become "overwhelmed" by constant coverage of the pandemic.

"Television, radio, newspapers - it's all about the virus. Of course you have to be careful and try to get the pandemic under control as quickly as possible. But please, with a sense of proportion," said Marko.

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Helmut Marko pictured on April 26, 2019
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