Lewis Hamilton’s positive virus test has cost him the chance to equal Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel’s record for most race wins in a season.
The seven-time Formula One champion tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday and will miss this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix.
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Sitting on 11 wins with two races remaining this season, Hamilton had the chance to equal Schumacher and Vettel’s all-time record of 13.
But that is up in smoke after the positive COVID-19 test.
Hamilton was tested three times last week and returned a negative result each time, the last on Sunday afternoon at the Bahrain International Circuit.
But Hamilton woke up on Monday morning with mild symptoms and was then informed that a contact prior to arrival in Bahrain had subsequently tested positive, his Mercedes team said on Tuesday.
This led to a subsequent test returning a positive result, and Hamilton says he has gone into self-isolation for 10 days.
“I'm devastated that I won’t be racing this weekend. 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've been,” Hamilton wrote on his social media accounts.
“I'm gutted not to be able to race this weekend but my priority is to follow the protocols and advice, to protect others. I'm really lucky that I feel OK with only mild symptoms.”
Lewis Hamilton in isolation after positive test
Hamilton’s isolation is in accordance with the health protocols 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,” an earlier team statement said.
The 35-year-old Hamilton appeared to be drained at the end of the Bahrain GP, which was marred by a crash that left Romain Grosjean with minor burns to his hands and ankles after his Haas car crashed and burst into flames moments after the start.
“It's physical, this track has always been physical. We've got lots of high-speed corners so I was definitely feeling it,” Hamilton said following Sunday’s race.
“I was sliding around a lot out there and I wasn't really quite sure how it would play out at the end.”
There is another race in Bahrain on Sunday - on Sakhir's shorter outer circuit - before the 17-race season concludes in Abu Dhabi.
Hamilton clinched the drivers’ championship last month in Turkey and has a big lead in the standings with 332 points, well ahead of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas (201) and Max Verstappen (189).
Hamilton also misses out, for now, on being able to clinch a 100th pole position.
His pole last weekend was the record-extending 98th of his career.
The Mercedes team said it would announce a replacement driver later in the week.
Reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne was already scheduled to travel to Bahrain after Formula E testing in Valencia.
Hamilton is the third F1 driver to test positive for COVID-19 this season, following Sergio Perez at Silverstone and Lance Stroll in Germany.
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