By Norman Isaac Mwambazi
Lewis Hamilton will miss this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain after testing positive for COVID-19 and he is currently self-isolating. His replacement driver is yet to be announced.
The Mercedes driver returned three negative tests last week but began displaying mild symptoms on Monday and was informed at the same time that a contact prior to his arrival in Bahrain had subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.
According to Sky Sports, Hamilton returned a positive result in a further test, confirmed in a later retest. Mercedes say he is showing mild symptoms but is “otherwise fit and well” and is now self-isolating in line with guidelines.
Mercedes say they will announce Hamilton’s temporary replacement “in due course.” Stoffel Vandoorne and Esteban Gutierrez are the team’s reserve drivers.
It will be the first Grand Prix Hamilton has missed in his 14-season career, ending a record run of 265 consecutive starts.
He already wrapped up his record-equalling seventh world championship three weeks ago in Turkey. Hamilton is the third F1 driver to contract COVID-19 this season after Racing Point’s Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll.
In a statement on Tuesday, 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.
“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.”
F1 say all Hamilton’s contacts have been declared and the correct procedures have been followed, meaning there is “no wider impact” on this weekend’s second event in Bahrain.
With the 2020 world title already confirmed, Hamilton leads his teammate Valtteri Bottas by 131 points in the drivers’ standings after victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix last weekend, a race overshadowed by Romain Grosjean’s terrifying accident.
The Englishman had also been on course to tie Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel’s all-time record of 13 wins in a season, but his absence from Bahrain’s second race ends that prospect for 2020.
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