Several of the top teams have flown out half a dozen mechanics to have on standby in case any of their crew should fall ill during this weekend’s Indian Grand Prix.
This unprecedented situation has arisen after stories emanating from the Commonwealth Games, held here in India last year, where many key workers got “Delhi belly” and were incapacitated.
With long transit times from Europe, some teams do not want to take the risk that they might have people unable to work or to perform vital functions, such as late night rebuilds or even pit stops.
The rules say that teams are allowed a maximum of 47 people on site working on the cars, so the back-up people will not be brought into the circuit unless needed.
Most teams are taking extreme hygiene precautions with alcohol hand rub being almost as prominent this weekend as bottled water.
With a punishing schedule of races already behind them, many mechanics are feeling pretty jaded, so immune systems are low and they are vulnerable to illness.
The curfew, brought in this year with the intention of making sure mechanics don’t work all nighters, has had a counterproductive effect, as teams are now simply working up to the curfew hour regardless of whether there is the need to or not. It has simply become the norm and so mechanics without any dramas to deal with are leaving the track for only six hours on Thursdays and working up to the 1-30am deadline on Friday nights.
This is taking its toll on some of the younger mechanics, who are finding it very tough.
Not every team is taking such precautions. One team boss I spoke to of a team currently in midfield said they had stocked up on Immodium tablets and left it at that..