The Mercedes F1 team has announced that Lewis Hamilton has tested positive for COVID-19 in Bahrain and will not take part in next weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix.
“The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team regrets to announce that Lewis Hamilton has tested positive for COVID-19 and will be unable to take part in this weekend’s Sakhir GP,” read a statement from the Brackley squad.
“Lewis was tested three times last week and returned a negative result each time, the last of which was on Sunday afternoon at the Bahrain International Circuit as part of the standard race weekend testing programme.
“However, he woke up on Monday morning with mild symptoms and was informed at the same time that a contact prior to arrival in Bahrain had subsequently tested positive. Lewis therefore took a further test and returned a positive result. This has since been confirmed by a retest.
“Lewis is now isolating in accordance with COVID-19 protocols and public health authority guidelines in Bahrain. Apart from mild symptoms, he is otherwise fit and well, and the entire team sends him its very best wishes for a swift recovery.
“We will announce our replacement driver plans for this weekend in due course.”
Read also: Haas confirms Pietro Fittipaldi for Sakhir Grand Prix!
Stoffel Vandoorne and Esteban Gutierrez are the German outfit’s official reserve drivers. The Belgian likely holds an edge given his recent stint with Mercedes in Formula E. However, F1’s super-sub Nico Hulkenberg could perhaps also be considered a potential candidate for the plum seat.
But the young man British fans would most likely want to see fill Hamilton’s shoes is George Russell, although a big incentive would likely be required to convince Williams to release its driver and Mercedes protégé for a one-off at Sakhir. Or perhaps for two races depending on Hamilton’s unavailability.
Regardless of who the driver will be, he will be handed a career-defining opportunity and a real chance of winning an F1 Grand Prix out of the blue next weekend.
The FIA confirmed that Hamilton had been isolated while all his contacts had been traced.
“The FIA, Formula 1 and Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team can today confirm that during mandatory pre-race PCR testing for the Sakhir Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton has tested positive for COVID-19,” said the governing body.
“In accordance with COVID-19 protocols and public health authority guidelines in Bahrain he is now isolating. All contacts have been declared. The procedures set out by the FIA and Formula 1 will ensure no wider impact on this weekend’s event.”
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