Time for Formula One to ease COVID-19 protocols, says Zak Brown

Formula One is considering easing some of its strict COVID-19 'bubble' protocols, in force since last year, so teams can entertain sponsors and guests more freely at races.

McLaren Racing chief executive Zak Brown told Reuters change was overdue and the situation was discussed in Belgium last weekend.

He hoped something could be done in time for the Sept 10-12 Italian Grand Prix.

"It was a topic this weekend and [F1 chief executive] Stefano [Domenicali] and the FIA acknowledge this and suggested they are going to come back and make some further changes. I think the sport is going to react," he said.

"Now that it's been tabled and discussed and all the teams agree that we need to start loosening it up, I'd like to think maybe we could get something done for Monza."

Brown, who had COVID-19 in July, suggested Formula One needed to look at what some other sports and series were doing and move in line with government policy in countries the sport visited.

"We all think this [COVID-19] is going to be here for a long time now so everyone's starting to learn how to deal with it and live with it responsibly and I think that's what we need to do," he added.

"We still pretty much have almost the same protocols as when this was going on a year ago. It's started to loosen up but I think we need to make sure we're taking care of our corporate partners.

"I think I should be able to go up to the Paddock Club, socially distanced, and talk to my guests and bring the drivers up. And on a limited basis bring the partners down to see the car in the garage, socially distanced."

Formula One teams are operating in a protective 'bubble' to reduce the risk of contagion.

They can bring key sponsors and others into the paddock inner sanctum only within their total allocation of 115 passes and guests cannot come and go from the elite Paddock Club hospitality.

Brown pointed out that the paddock was "pretty much vaccinated" and golf's PGA Tour and the U.S.-based IndyCar series had now stopped regular COVID-19 testing for all participants.

He questioned why vaccinated staff or a driver should still have to isolate, with a potential impact on the championship, if a close contact tested positive when that is not government policy in some countries.

Formula One sources said the sport was still a long way off ending its testing regime.