Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix on the Bahrain Outer circuit.
While Hamilton tested negative three times last week during Bahrain Grand Prix week, most recently on Sunday afternoon, he was tested again on Monday after waking up with symptoms and returned the positive result.
“Lewis was tested three times last week and returned a negative result each time, the test of which was on Sunday afternoon at the Bahrain International Circuit as part of the standard race weekend testing programme,” said a Mercedes team statement.
“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 protocls and public health authority guidelines.
“Apart from mild symptoms, he is otherwise fit and well, and the entire team sends him our very best wishes for a swift recovery.”
Mercedes has yet to confirm who will replace Hamilton for the race, although former McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne is its official reserve driver and it also has ex-Sauber and Haas racer Esteban Gutierrez on its books as simulator driver.
Vandoorne is currently participating in Formula E pre-season testing for Mercedes at Valencia and has always been scheduled to travel to Bahrain after the test to be with the F1 team for the Sakhir GP weekend.
Mercedes is currently evaluating its options before making a final decision.
It also has George Russell on its books, but he is contracted to Williams.
Hamilton will be the third F1 driver to miss a race this season having tested positive for COVID-19 following Racing Point pairing Sergio Perez at Silverstone and Lance Stroll at the Nurburgring.
The season-concluding Abu Dhabi GP takes place just one week after the Sakhir race, but under Abu Dhabi’s current regulations Hamilton will be able to travel to the country provided he tests negative in time.
His absence from the Sakhir GP ends Hamilton’s possibility of equalling the record of 13 wins in one F1 season this year.