Lewis Hamilton will miss the first Formula 1 race of his career on Sunday.
Mercedes announced Tuesday morning that the seven-time champion had tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday. Hamilton’s positive test came a day after he won the Bahrain Grand Prix. Hamilton clinched the 2020 Formula 1 title two weeks earlier when he won the Turkish Grand Prix.
“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 program,” the team said in a 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.”
The team said a replacement driver would be announced later this week.
Hamilton’s win on Sunday was the 95th of his career. He has the most F1 wins of any driver and his seven world titles tie him with Michael Schumacher for the most all time. Hamilton has been in every Formula 1 race since he made his debut in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in 2007.
He’s also the third driver this season to miss a race because of COVID-19. Both Racing Point drivers Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll missed time in 2020 after contracting the coronavirus.
Whoever replaces Hamilton at Mercedes will be the second backup driver to take part in Sunday’s race. Haas announced Monday that reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldi would replace Romain Grosjean after Grosjean’s horrific crash. Grosjean suffered burns to his hands and ankles and other minor injuries after his car went through a steel barrier, split in half and immediately caught on fire.
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