Reigning seven-time Formula One champion, Lewis Hamilton is to miss this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix after testing positive for Coronavirus.
In a statement, Mercedes said; ‘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.’
The team proceeded to confirm that Hamilton was tested three times last week, returning a negative result each time including Sunday afternoon as part of the standard race testing weekend before waking up on Monday morning with ‘mild symptoms’ and was informed that a contact prior to his arrival in Bahrain has tested positive as well.
It was therefore decided that Hamilton would undergo a further test and returned a positive result, which has since been confirmed by a second test, with Hamilton now self-isolating in accordance with Coronavirus protocols and health authority guidance within Bahrain despite otherwise feeling fit and well.
Mercedes concluded their statement by sending ‘its very best wishes for a swift recovery’ whilst Hamilton’s replacement will be announced within the coming days, which could mean a F1 return for one of Esteban Gutierrez or Stoffel Vandoorne who are part of Mercedes’ test team.
This announcement marks the first time that Hamilton won’t start a F1 race since arriving in the series in 2007, having previously started all 265 races in which he had been entered for as a race driver,
Mercedes won’t be the only team running a replacement driver this weekend with Pietro Fittipaldi set for his F1 debut in place of Romain Grosjean at Haas after the Frenchman dramatically escaped a fireball in Sunday’s Bahrain GP with ‘minor burns’ to his hands and ankles.