Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has returned a positive Covid-19 test and is now officially ruled out of this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain.
The Englishman returned three negative tests last week but soon after, he started to feel mild symptoms and was asked to take a test on Monday, having been informed that he had been in contact with a carrier prior to his arrival in Bahrain.
Hamilton subsequently tested positive following a retest and Team Mercedes confirmed that despite displaying mild symptoms he is “otherwise fit and well” and has gone into self-isolation with immediate effect, in line with government protocols.
Team Mercedes also mentioned that they will announce a replacement for their most coveted driver “in due course,” with reserve team drivers Stoffel Vandoorne and Esteban Gutierrez in contention.
Sakhir will be the first time Hamilton will miss a Grand Prix throughout his 14-season career, bringing an end to a record run of 265 consecutive starts.
Hamilton is F1’s third driver affected by Covid-19 this season, along with Racing Point’s Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll. On the positive side though, the 35-year-old already clinched his record-equaling seventh world championship title three weeks ago at the Turkish Grand Prix.
A Mercedes statement on Tuesday read: “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.
“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.”
This weekend’s second event in Bahrain will go on as planned and there will be “no wider impact” as the F1 have categorically said that everyone who came in close contact with Hamilton has been declared and that the necessary procedures have been followed.
Having clinched the 2020 world title following his victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix last weekend, Hamilton has opened a 131-point lead over Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas in the driver’s standings.
His hopes of matching the record all-time race win in a season (13), set by Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Better has also been dashed by his absence from Bahrain’s second race next weekend.