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Red Bull’s Marko says he proposed Formula One coronavirus camp

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VIENNA — Red Bull motorsport adviser Helmut Marko proposed holding a training camp where Formula One drivers could get infected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), but the team rejected the idea.

Marko told Austrian public broadcaster ORF on Sunday he wanted to gather drivers while the F1 season was suspended.

“We have four Formula One drivers, we have eight or 10 juniors, and the idea was to hold a camp where we could bridge this rather dead time mentally and physically,” Marko said.

“And then it would be ideal, because these are all young, strong men in really good health, if the infection comes then. Then they would be equipped, if it starts up again, for a really hard world championship.”

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Marko said the idea “was not accepted positively” within Red Bull and was abandoned.

It wasn’t immediately clear if by “four Formula One drivers” Marko meant Red Bull’s two drivers and two reserves, or the two drivers from sister team Alpha Tauri.

Marko praised Red Bull driver Max Verstappen for throwing himself into the world of online racing to stay sharp, and said the drivers were focusing on their fitness.

“Max Verstappen is having more races than in a regular season,” Marko said. “If we come to a season with 15 or 18 races, it will be very hard and there won’t be a chance to rebuild the conditioning.”

The first eight races of the season have been canceled or postponed, leaving the Canadian Grand Prix in June as the first event still on the schedule. That could be followed by a packed string of scheduled and rearranged races.

The season-opening Australian GP was canceled.

The 76-year-old Marko, who raced in F1 in the 1970s, acknowledged he could be at risk for COVID-19.

“I belong to the high-risk group, but I’m not frightened,” he said. “I respect it.”

Marko added he had what he thought was a “heavy cold” in February but now thinks it could have been coronavirus symptoms.

Simon Pagenaud’s engineer relives 2019 Indy 500 victory on Twitter

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The Team Penske engineer for last year’s Indianapolis 500 winner is reliving Simon Pagenaud’s day by tweeting about what he was doing each moment a year later.

Starting with an observation that he awoke in his Indianapolis hotel room at 4:30 a.m., Ben Bretzman (@benbretzman) sent nearly two dozen tweets by 11 a.m. ET about how the morning before the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 unfolded.

Bretzman was through the infield tunnel and in Gasoline Alley by 6 a.m. By 7:30 a.m., he was wondering if his driver was awake yet, but he had heard for the first time from Pagenaud 45 minutes later.

‘BACK HOME AGAIN’Sunday at 2 p.m. ET, NBC

FIERCE FRIENDSHIPPagenaud, Rossi recall epic battle of 2019 Indy 500

Among other highlights: The team’s last strategy meeting was at 8:30 a.m.; final check of the weather was at 9:30 a.m. and Bretzman gave the No. 22 Dallara-Chevrolet a once-over at 10:35 a.m. before it was pushed to the grid.

Follow @BenBretzman to watch the day unfold from the pit box and tune into “Back Home Again at 2 p.m. ET on NBC as Pageanud and Alexander Rossi, who are good friends off the track, recap their epic duel with host Mike Tirico.

Simon Pagenaud and engineer Ben Bretzman debrief at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IndyCar photo by Joe Skibinski).