Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton says he is “devastated” and “gutted” to be missing the Sakhir Grand Prix due to his positive COVID-19 test result.
Hamilton, who has never previously had to sit out a race in his 14-season F1 career, experienced mild symptoms when he woke up on Monday morning following his Bahrain GP win last weekend.
Two tests later on Monday came back positive and he is now in isolation.
“I’m devastated that I won’t be racing this weekend,” wrote Hamilton in a post on his social media channels.
“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 in order to stay safe.
“Unfortunately even though I returned three negative results this past week, I woke up yesterday morning with mild symptoms and requested another test which came back positive.
“I’ve immediately gone into self-isolation for 10 days.
“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 and will do my best to stay fit and healthy.”
Hamilton had been stringent in his precautions through the season so far, taking steps such as eating alone in his room and avoiding normal activities.
“Please look after yourselves out there, you can never be too careful,” he added.
“These are worrying times for everyone and we need to make sure we are looking after ourselves and each other Stay positive.”
Having secured the 2020 drivers’ title in Turkey last month with three races to spare, Hamilton missing this weekend’s second Bahrain event makes little difference to his season.
But it does rule out any chance of him equalling Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel’s record of 13 wins in a year in 2020. He is currently on 11 for the year.
Mercedes has yet to announce who will replace Hamilton for the race on the Sakhir Outer circuit, but its reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne is strong favourite as he was due to travel to the event direct from Formula E testing anyway.
Provided Hamilton’s 10 days of isolation began immediately on Monday and he tests negative in sufficient time, he should be able to return to the grid for the season finale in Abu Dhabi next week.