Lewis Hamilton will return to the Formula 1 grid this weekend for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after testing negative for coronavirus, with the Briton back in the saddle with the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team.
After clinching the championship with victory in the Turkish Grand Prix last month and subsequently winning the Bahrain Grand Prix, Hamilton missed last weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix after a positive test for COVID-19.
His place was taken by Williams Racing’s George Russell, who played a starring role at the Bahrain International Circuit, even if team mistakes in the pit lane and punctures left him down in ninth place at the chequered flag.
Russell should be able to return to Williams this weekend with his head held high and with his first career points to his name, with Jack Aitken bumped back to reserve driver after the Anglo-Korean driver stood in for Russell in Bahrain.
Hamilton has completed his quarantine spell and has been given the all-clear after further tests for coronavirus, meaning he can return to racing after just one missed race.
“Lewis tested negative for COVID-19 on Wednesday prior to completion of his self-isolation period in Bahrain,” read a statement from Mercedes. “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.”
Mercedes Looking for Redemption in Abu Dhabi after Sakhir Pit Stop Mess Up – Toto Wolff
Toto Wolff, the Team Principal at Mercedes, says they will be looking for ‘redemption’ this weekend at the Yas Marina Circuit after seeing a one-two finish in the Sakhir Grand Prix disappear following a number of mistakes in the pit lane.
When the safety car was called out, Mercedes opted to double stack their drivers to give them fresh tyres for the rest of the race, but Russell was fitted with tyres meant for team-mate Valtteri Bottas, and this wrecked both of their races. Bottas was forced to keep the tyres he had already used until the end, while Russell was called back into the pits for a second time to correct the mistake.
“We head into the final race of the season looking for redemption after a disappointing race in Sakhir, where both George and Valtteri lost the opportunity to win,” said Wolff. “The pit stop problem has uncovered an underlying problem with our intercom, and we’ve put measures in place, both technically and in the way we operate, to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Mercedes will run a special livery this weekend to honour their team members, both trackside and at the factory, with everyone who’s worked for the team having their name listed on the W11.
“We have a very special surprise this weekend in Abu Dhabi for our team members,” said Wolff. “We’ll be running a slightly different livery on Saturday and Sunday featuring everyone’s name on the car to honour the huge commitment and determination from everybody in Brixworth and Brackley.
“Everyone has pushed hard this year, raising the bar through this massively intense season, and we hope this gesture goes some way in showing the appreciation we have for everyone involved.”
Wolff says they will be giving it their all this weekend to end another dominant season on a high, with Hamilton and Bottas taking thirteen of the sixteen victories available to them.
“Abu Dhabi is always a fun race weekend with the end of season vibe and an interesting track for the engineers to tackle,” he said.
“The atmosphere will be slightly different this year with the COVID-19 control measures, but we’re as motivated as ever to end the season with a strong result and head into the winter break on the right foot.”