Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton has been confirmed at the team for the final F1 race of the season after contracting COVID-19 before the Sakhir GP.
Hamilton had posted a video update on his condition, saying that he awoke feeling ‘great’, and instilling hope that he could return for Abu Dhabi GP were he to test negative for COVID-19 on time, though a date by which he needed to return a negative result was never specified.
Hamilton tested positive on Monday heading into the Sakhir GP weekend, and a 10-day Quarantine period meant he would be unable to partake in the race. As he approaches the end of that 10-day spell, the team say, a negative test and advice from doctors gives him permission to race in Abu Dhabi.
The announcement means that George Russell, who filled in for Hamilton in Sakhir and found remarkable success before a litany of errors derailed his race, will not get another chance at the team in 2020. The Williams driver will return to more familiar surroundings for the race, after narrowly missing out on victory in the penultimate round of the season.
The statement from Mercedes and the FIA informed that Hamilton had multiple negative results in Bahrain before he was allowed to travel to Abu Dhabi. He arrived on Thursday and was tested negative again, which allows him to enter the paddock on Friday.
Russell started the Abu Dhabi GP weekend as a Mercedes driver where he took part in the press conference alongside Valtteri Bottas. Likewise, Jack Aitken sat with Nicholas Latifi for Williams, but now the Brit will return to his former team.
At the same time, the British-Korean racer will continue on his reserve duties. The Friday morning will be the first time since the Sunday of F1 Bahrain GP for Hamilton to be in the paddock. It remains to be seen how many laps he will need to get back into his grrove.
Here’s the statement from FIA and Mercedes:
“The FIA, Formula 1 and Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team can today confirm that Lewis Hamilton has returned a number of negative COVID-19 tests. He has completed his ten day quarantine in Bahrain and was free to leave the country according to the Bahraini health authority regulations. Lewis has now arrived in Abu Dhabi following confirmation from the authorities that he could do so and after quarantining has now received a further negative test result. The FIA COVID-19 protocols remain clear and have not changed. A negative pre-test result is necessary to be given access to the Formula 1 Paddock as set out in Appendix S to the International Sporting Code and another negative test result no more than 24 hours following arrival is required. Lewis, having now tested negative in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi will be granted access to the Paddock.”
Here’s the message from Russell: