Hamilton ‘not great’ and may miss final race

Hamilton ‘not great’ and may miss final race

MANAMA • Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton, who was diagnosed with the coronavirus last week, is struggling with the illness and is in doubt for this week’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said on Friday.

The seven-time champion won the Bahrain Grand Prix last weekend and was ruled out of today’s Sakhir Grand Prix after waking up on Monday with mild symptoms.

The 35-year-old is now in the process of isolating for 10 days, according to the established protocols.

“He is not great,” said Wolff of Hamilton, who will be replaced by George Russell for today’s race.

“Covid-19 is something you mustn’t take lightly and he is in safe hands. That is the most important, but it is these early days that are not so nice.”

Speaking to Sky Sports F1, Wolff also said Hamilton was still suffering from “mild symptoms” and a large dose of frustration at missing a race weekend for the first time in his F1 career since his debut in Australia in 2007.

“As you can imagine, a race driver out of his car… combine it with Covid, he would rather sit in there (nodding towards the Mercedes garage).”

When Hamilton completes his 10 days’ isolation, he will need to take another Covid-19 test to ensure he is given the all-clear ahead of the Abu Dhabi event starting on Friday.

The Briton is the third driver this year to miss a race due to Covid-19, following Racing Point duo Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll.

As a result, his contract talks with Mercedes will also have to wait until he recovers, Wolff added.

Hamilton is out of contract at the end of the year and, after winning the championship at last month’s Turkish Grand Prix, he indicated negotiations with the team would step up over the season-ending Middle Eastern triple header.

“Well, the timeline is being pushed back until he recovers,” Wolff said.

“We know that we need to get it done, pretty well aware both of us. But the priority now is of him getting back on his feet and being back (coronavirus) negative and then we will meet to put pen to paper.”

Hamilton, who earns an estimated £40 million (S$71.7 million) a year, became the most successful driver in the sport this season, surpassing Michael Schumacher’s record for most wins and equalling the German great’s title haul.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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