Seven-time world champion, Lewis Hamilton, will miss the upcoming Sakhir Grand Prix after being diagnosed with COVID-19. Hamilton is now the third F1 driver to be ruled out of a race this season thanks to the virus. Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll have both missed races this year after positive tests, too.
Mercedes stated that Hamilton woke up with symptoms of COVID-19 on Monday, the day following his win at the Bahrain Grand Prix. Despite having three negative tests prior to Sunday’s race, including on race day, Hamilton returned two positive tests on Monday.
A contact of the Mercedes driver had tested positive before Hamilton himself arrived in Bahrain. The positive test means that Hamilton may be a doubt for the final Grand Prix at Abu Dhabi also. If he is to return to race in the season finale, he must first have a negative COVID test for admittance to the paddock to be granted.
Irrespective of whether Hamilton will make it to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, his absence from the Sakhir GP is the first F1 race he will miss in his illustrious career. Although we suspect Lewis Hamilton may be concentrating on getting better, his lack of running will mean he cannot claim the highest percentage of wins in an F1 season that he was headed for.
Who will replace Lewis Hamilton?
The question now turns to which driver will fill the shoes of the absent champion. Mercedes appear to have several options, all of which will jump at the chance to drive the fastest car on the grid.
Stoffel Vandoorne and Esteban Gutierrez are the designated reserve drivers for the world champions. Vandoorne is flying to Bahrain after his Formula E test this week but has not been confirmed for the drive.
Racing Point’s super-sub Nico Hulkenberg has 2020 F1 experience and may be in with a shout too. The only option with even more 2020 experience is George Russell. The Williams driver is part of the Mercedes Junior Team but remains contracted to Williams for the remainder of this season so is an outside shot.
Whoever jumps in the Mercedes this weekend, we wish Lewis Hamilton a speedy recovery from COVID and hope to see him racing again soon.