Mercedes confirmed that Hamilton woke up on Monday morning with “mild symptoms” and underwent a Covid-19 test in Bahrain, having won Sunday’s Grand Prix to claim his 11th win of the season and a fifth consecutive victory.
The 35-year-old was also informed that a close contact prior to his arrival in Bahrain has tested positive for coronavirus, and upon being retested yesterday morning, he has returned a positive test result.
“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 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 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 has 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. Apart from mild symptoms, he is otherwise fit and well, and the entire tea sends him our very best wishes for a swift recovery.
“We will announce our replacement driver plans for this weekend in due course.”
An F1 statement added: “The FIA, Formula 1 and Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team can today confirm that during mandatory pre-race PCR testing for the Sakhir Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton has tested positive for Covid-19.
“In accordance with Covid-19 protocols and public health authority guidelines in Bahrain he is now isolating. All contacts have been declared.
“The procedures set out by the FIA and Formula 1 will ensure no wider impact on this weekend’s event.”
Mercedes will need to replace Hamilton this weekend, meaning his record streak of 265 consecutive race starts since his debut in March 2007 will come to an end. Mercedes reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez is one option that the team have to replace the Briton, as is current Mercedes Formula E driver Stoffell Vandoorne, who is testing with the all-electric series in Valencia on Tuesday.
But Mercedes could also look to former F1 driver Nico Hulkenberg to substitute for Hamilton after the German filled in three times this season for Perez and Stroll, having competed in the British Grand Prix, 70th Anniversary Grand Prix and the German Grand Prix in 2020.