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The Aston Martin DBX medical car
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Interview

The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push

As the driver of Formula 1’s medical car, Alan van der Merwe’s job is to wait – and hope his skills aren’t needed. James Newbold hears from F1’s lesser-known stalwart.

The drawn-out wait for the decision everybody knew was coming, that the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix would not restart, was for many characterised by consumption of snacks and complaining on social media.

But for F1’s medical car driver Alan van der Merwe it was an intensely busy time. He and safety car driver Bernd Maylander completed more laps than the F1 field, regularly taking to the track to evaluate whether conditions were such that racing could get under way. It’s all part of the job for the 2003 British Formula 3 champion, who has been transporting F1’s medical rescue coordinator to incidents since 2009 – a gig which arose from an impromptu meet with then-F1 race director Charlie Whiting at Heathrow.

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