A “devastated” Lewis Hamilton will miss this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain after testing positive for coronavirus.
The seven-time Formula One world champion, 35, who has “mild symptoms” but is “otherwise fit and well” will have to isolate at his hotel for 10 days, putting his participation in Abu Dhabi a week on Sunday in serious doubt.
A high-ranking source told the PA news agency that it is “unlikely” Hamilton will be able to race at the season finale.
Due to strict Covid-19 rules in Abu Dhabi, all personnel involved in the F1 event must travel from Bahrain on December 7. Yas Island, where the race is being staged on December 13, will then effectively be locked down.
It is anticipated that Hamilton will not be eligible to fly until December 9 at the earliest. Hamilton’s trainer Angela Cullen is also in self-isolation having been in close contact with the driver.
Hamilton tested positive for the virus on the morning following Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix where he claimed his 11th win of the season. He was informed “that a contact prior to his arrival in Bahrain” had also contracted Covid-19.
Hamilton said: “I am devastated that I won’t be racing this weekend.
BREAKING: Lewis Hamilton will miss this weekend's Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain after a positive test for Covid-19 pic.twitter.com/c0XCfyDmWZ
— Formula 1 (@F1) December 1, 2020
“Since we started the season in June my team and I have been taking all the precautions we possibly can and following the regulations everywhere we have been in order to stay safe.
“Unfortunately, even though I returned three negative results this past week, I woke up yesterday morning with mild symptoms and requested another test which came back positive. I have immediately gone into self-isolation for 10 days.
“I am gutted not to be able to race this weekend but my priority is to follow the protocols and advice to protect others.
“I am really lucky that I feel OK with only mild symptoms and will do my best to stay fit and healthy.
“Please look after yourselves out there, you can never be too careful. These are worrying times for everyone and we need to make sure we are looking after ourselves and each other. ”
Mercedes said: “Apart from mild symptoms, Lewis is otherwise fit and well, and the entire team sends him its very best wishes for a swift recovery.”
Hamilton posted videos to his Instagram account last week playing tennis with his father Anthony and running along a beach.
In another video, the Mercedes driver could be seen travelling in the same car alongside Anthony and his friend Daniel “Spinz” Forrest.
While both his father and Forrest were wearing masks, Hamilton did not have a face covering on.
Hamilton, who wrapped up his record-equalling seventh world championship in Turkey last month, is the third driver to have contracted coronavirus.
Sergio Perez missed the British and 70th Anniversary Grands Prix at Silverstone in August, while his Racing Point team-mate Lance Stroll also tested positive following October’s Eifel Grand Prix in Germany.
Sunday’s race will be the first Hamilton has missed since his debut at the 2007 season-opening race in Australia.
Mercedes have yet to confirm who will replace the Englishman for Sunday’s grand prix on the Outer Loop of the Bahrain International Circuit.
Mercedes reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne, formerly of McLaren, is in the running, while the world champions could also turn to British driver George Russell.
Russell, 22, is in his second season with Williams, but is a member of the Mercedes junior driver programme.