World champion Lewis Hamilton was Thursday given the green light to return to racing at this weekend’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix after recovering from coronavirus.Hamilton, 35, missed last Sunday’s Sakhir GP but the FIA and Mercedes both confirmed that he had passed a number of negative Covid-19 tests after completing a 10-day quarantine period in Bahrain.
George Russell, who replaced Hamilton last week and came agonisingly close to a shock victory, will return to his Williams team.
“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,” said a team statement. “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 team added: “Lewis, having now tested negative in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi will be granted access to the paddock.”
Hamilton’s absence from the Sakhir Grand Prix was the first of his F1 career and came after 265 consecutive races since he made his debut at the 2007 Australian Grand Prix.
This season he has secured a record-equalling seventh drivers title – drawing level with Michael Schumacher – and passed the German’s records for race wins.
Hamilton has won a record 95.
He also holds records for most pole positions (98) and most podiums (164), among others, and is widely-held to be the most successful Formula One driver of all time.
His absence last weekend came as the team produced one of its most erratic and error-strewn performances including a major pit-stop bungle that affected both drivers results.
Russell, who led for 62 laps, had to pit twice after being given a set of mixed tyres, including tyres designated for team-mate Valtteri Bottas, before a late puncture.
Bottas endured a prolonged pit-stop in which, on discovery of their errors with Russell, the team re-fitted the set of tyres that had been removed in order for him to rejoin the race.
Hamilton’s return may bring a semblance of normal order back and with it his quiet authority in leading the drivers in the final anti-racism gesture of the season ahead of Sunday’s race.
He may also use his return to highlight human rights issues.
Meanwhile, Russell said he was “buzzing'” again on his return to race for strugglers Williams after his dazzling display as a super-sub for Hamilton.
The 22-year-old Briton finished ninth on Sunday.
He also clocked the fastest lap of the race as he scored his first points in Formula One with the pace-setting record seven-time champion team.
Williams are without a point this year ahead of the last race of the season.
Posting on Twitter on Thursday evening, Russell published a photograph of himself back in his Williams racing suit and wrote: “Back home @WilliamsRacing, checking it still fits! Did I miss much?”
He had been dressed in Mercedes team kit when he appeared at a news conference earlier Thursday.
In a separate post, he added: “Seriously though, glad to see @LewisHamilton back and fighting fit.
“Had a blast with @MercedesAMGF1 but now I’m buzzing to put everything I’ve learned into action with my team @WilliamsRacing.
“Gonna give it everything this weekend – just as they do for me week in, week out.” (AFP)