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 last week in Bahrain had subsequently tested positive for Covid-19.
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.
Now in a period of 10 days isolation, Hamilton posted a message on Twitter saying he was “devastated” to miss the first race of his F1 career. He said he was following protocols and urged others to stay safe.
Mercedes say they will announce Hamilton’s temporary replacement “in due course”. Stoffel Vandoorne and Esteban Gutierrez are the team’s reserve drivers, but it is not certain that F1’s world champions will turn to either.
Hamilton’s period of isolation ends next Thursday. It remains to be confirmed whether he will return for next week’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
This weekend will be the first time Hamilton has been absent from a Grand Prix since his F1 career began in 2007, ending a record run of 265 consecutive starts.
He already wrapped up his record-equaling 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 an earlier 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.” *Re-published from Sky Sports News*