Lewis Hamilton returns to F1 for Abu Dhabi GP after negative Covid-19 tests


Lewis Hamilton has returned for F1's season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend after recording negative coronavirus tests.

The seven-time world champion missed last week's Sakhir GP after contracting Covid-19 and served a 10-day period of isolation in Bahrain, which ended on Thursday.

Hamilton returned negative COVID-19 tests in Bahrain before flying to Abu Dhabi on Thursday. He then returned another negative result on arrival to the UAE, giving him the green light to make his return to the paddock Friday (today) in time for opening practice.

George Russell will revert to his seat at Williams after starring in Hamilton's place last weekend. The 22-year-old was on standby to fill in again and completed media engagements for Mercedes in the Abu Dhabi paddock on Thursday.

Speaking on Sky Sports News before news of Lewis Hamilton's participation in the Abu Dhabi GP was confirmed, Martin Brundle revealed he was expecting the world champion to get the green light to return.

A Mercedes statement read: "Lewis tested negative for Covid-19 on Wednesday prior to completion of his self-isolation period in Bahrain. This enabled him to travel to Abu Dhabi on Thursday afternoon, and he tested negative on arrival.

"Lewis has therefore completed the protocols required by the FIA for his entry to the paddock tomorrow and will be able to take part in the race weekend."

Speaking before Lewis Hamilton's return was confirmed, George Russell spoke about the impact of his stunning Mercedes debut

Hamilton will return to track action in Friday morning's first practice session in Abu Dhabi, which starts at 9am live on Sky Sports F1. Sunday's race, the 17th and final one of the season, is live at 1.10pm.

Last weekend was the first race that Hamilton had missed since his F1 career began in 2007, after a record run of 265 consecutive starts. He had already clinched this year's world drivers' title - a record-equalling seventh for the Englishman - at last month's Turkish GP.

In a video update on Tuesday, Hamilton said that while he had experienced "one of the hardest weeks that I've had for some time" suffering from the virus he was feeling better and had completed his first training session since his positive test on November 30.

With their star driver sidelined, Mercedes turned to the 22-year-old Russell to fill the considerable void left by Hamilton - and their faith in the Englishman, whose career they manage, was vindicated.

Despite never having driven the team's double title-winning W11 before, Russell was immediately on the pace in practice and and qualified within 0.026s of Mercedes regular Valtteri Bottas' pole position for second on the grid. Russell then overtook Bottas at the start of last Sunday's race and was on course for a stunning maiden F1 victory before a Mercedes pit-stop calamity and subsequent puncture dropped him to ninth, although the result still represented his maiden points in the sport.

Russell will again find himself racing towards the back of the field at Williams this weekend. Jack Aitken, who subbed for Russell, will revert to his reserve driver role at the team.
~Sky Sports News

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