Sakhir (Bahrain) (AFP)

F1 deprived of its champion!

Lewis Hamilton, Covid-19 positive, is forfeited the Sakhir Grand Prix from Friday to Sunday in Bahrain and uncertain for the last GP of the season, next week in Abu Dhabi.

The Briton, who won a 7th world crown in mid-November, "woke up Monday morning with mild symptoms and was informed at the same time as one of his contacts before his arrival in Bahrain (the previous week for a first GP in the kingdom, which he won, Editor's note) had tested positive, ”explains his Mercedes team in a press release Tuesday.

"Lewis therefore made a test which turned out positive. This has since been confirmed by another test," adds the mark to the star.

The Mercedes driver, "apart from mild symptoms, is fit and healthy".

He isolated himself for ten days and his participation in the Abu Dhabi GP at Yas Marina on December 13 is therefore "to be confirmed".

Mercedes also specifies that its star driver was tested three times last week, in accordance with the protocols in force in F1 and Bahrain, for the last time on Sunday afternoon, and that all these tests were negative.

- Vandoorne as a substitute?


The name of his deputy will be announced "in due course".

The team has two reserve drivers: the Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne and the Mexican Esteban Gutiérrez.

Vandoorne, who drove in F1 in 2017 and 2018 with McLaren, is currently competing with Mercedes in the Formula E pre-season testing in Valencia, Spain.

It was expected even before Hamilton's positive test that he would join Bahrain after these tests, which end on Tuesday, said a spokesperson for the team.

Hamilton secured the 2020 world championship title, his seventh in F1 (a record he shares with German Michael Schumacher), during the Turkish GP in mid-November.

Mercedes is sacred among manufacturers for the seventh consecutive season since 2014.

Before him, the two drivers of the Racing Point team, the Mexican Sergio Pérez and the Canadian Lance Stroll, missed races because of the Covid-19.

Several figures in the paddock (Racing Point owner Lawrence Stroll, Williams team principal Simon Roberts or even Pirelli tire manager Mario Isola) have also tested positive since the start of the season in July.

F1's health protocol provides for detection tests before a race weekend, in the first 24 hours on the circuit, then every five days when the GPs are linked, as is currently the case with three GPs. in three weeks, two in Bahrain and one in Abu Dhabi.

The staff of the stables and other people on site are separated into the most airtight bubbles possible to limit the risk of contagion and positive cases are immediately isolated.

- Grosjean also forfeit -

"The procedures established by the FIA ​​and Formula 1 ensure that there will be no wider impact on this weekend's event," said the International Automobile Federation in a statement.

This is the second forfeit for the Sakhir GP, contested on the outside track of the Sakhir International Circuit in Bahrain (borrowed for the first time in F1), after that of Frenchman Romain Grosjean (Haas), who suffers from burns to his hands. following his accident at the start of the Bahrain GP on Sunday.

Grosjean will be replaced by Brazilian Pietro Fittipaldi, 24, grandson of two-time F1 world champion Emerson Fittipaldi, who will make his premier class debut.

The 34-year-old Frenchman, who is certainly playing his last season in F1, hopes to get back behind the wheel in Abu Dhabi, his team principal Guenther Steiner said on Tuesday.

"We will talk about it again Sunday or Monday to see if it is feasible. It will depend on his state of health," he adds.

© 2020 AFP