Long COVID is not a concern, says Hamilton

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Lewis Hamilton insists that his bid for a record-breaking eighth world championship will not be derailed by long COVID-19.

The 36-year-old Mercedes driver was forced to seek medical attention after feeling dizzy in the aftermath of his frenetic drive from last to third at the concluding round before the summer break in Hungary nearly four weeks ago.

Hamilton subsequently revealed that he is suffering with the effects of coronavirus which he contracted last December.

But speaking on Thursday as the sport roars back to life in Belgium this week, Hamilton, who holds an eight-point advantage over Red Bull rival Max Verstappen, said: "It is not a concern for me.

"I spent the break making sure I am in the best shape and I do feel like I am in better shape moving into the second half of the season.

"I stress the importance of staying safe because we are in this pandemic. As you move around, you see people relaxing more and more but the virus is still around.

"But I will continue to be focused on my health and continue to make sure I get stronger throughout the year."

Spa-Francorchamps plays host to the first of three races in as many weeks, ahead of the Dutch Grand Prix, and then Monza.

Hamilton's Mercedes team were expected to reveal this weekend who will partner the seven-time world champion next season, with George Russell emerging as the favourite to replace Valtteri Bottas.

However, an announcement has been pushed back, with the week of the Italian Grand Prix on September 12 understood to be earmarked.

"I have been vocal in the past about my loyalty to Valtteri," added Hamilton, who has driven with Bottas at Mercedes since Nico Rosberg's retirement in 2016.

"I have worked incredibly closely with him and our working relationship is better than ever.

"(Mercedes team principal) Toto Wolff is a great leader and we always stay connected.

"We want what is best for the team and we want to win more championships. We have conversations but it is down to him and the board at Mercedes to make that decision."

Mercedes junior driver Russell, 23, who scored his first points for Williams in Hungary, said: "I trust Mercedes to look after my future, one way or the other.

"Any driver wants to go against the best and Lewis is the greatest of all-time.

"It would be an honour to get that opportunity. If I could choose to race against anybody as my teammate, Lewis would be the one."

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